Seitan vs. Tofu vs. Tempeh: WTF Is The Difference?

By Betchy Crocker

If you’re a crunchy vegan or vegetarian betch, you can probs skip this article. But for those of us who enjoy a big juicy burger, fine artisan meats, and other animal products, you’re probably not as well informed about things like tofu or tempeh or seitan. So today, we’re breaking it down for you – that way, when you get into your next “fish are friends, not food” mood, you can speak articulately about the differences in these tasteless soy proteins.


First off, it’s pronounced “say-tan”, not “Satan”, which is honestly unfortunate. Basically, it’s a dough made when you wash gluten flour with water, dissolve some starches, and leave behind insoluble gluten. It’s more “meaty” in texture next to tofu or tempeh and is often used to make mock chicken. It can also be grilled, broiled, roasted, etc. and has 75 grams of protein per 100 grams of product. Also, you can make your own at home for cheaper than buying it, just FYI.


Ah, tofu. You get this shit when you add salt or acid to heated soy milk which causes the proteins to hang on to each other for dear life – forming a solid mass. The three main varieties are silken tofu, pressed tofu, and fresh tofu. The silken variety is good for vegan mousses and shit; the pressed is the typical kind you see grilled pretending to be meat; and the fresh is usually found at Asian markets. Protein here isn’t as great as seitan - 8 grams of protein per 100 grams of tofu.


Lastly, we come to tempeh – a fermented soy product made when you bind whole soybeans into a cake of beans. Therefore, it has a super strong nutty flavor, so it’s best if you marinate it in things like ginger and soy then grill it. It’s super rich in fiber and amino acids along with providing 19 grams of protein per 100 grams of product.

Congrats – now you can argue with your vegan friends about their food tasting like a cooked sponge!




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