Vegetable protein – how do you eat yours?

Posted on Categories Nutrition

You have all seen the fake meat “sausages” and “burgers” that are in stores, these have a fake meat texture as they are a combination of a textured vegetable protein (soy) and another protein called gluten from wheat.  These proteins are blended with fat, as without the fat present there is nothing to carry flavour which is added in the form of yeast extracts, natural flavourings, salt, sugars and spices and probably a binder that forms a gel when it is heated (called hydroxypropylmethylcellulose or hpmc) I have mentioned previously that hpmc comes from wood fibres.  If there is no hpmc then there is probably some kind of egg in there making a lot of fake meats unsuitable for vegans.  Dee’s  veggie burgers are vegan but do not contain any soy or gluten, egg, binders, fats or salt – which is pretty unique for a vegan burger!

The main issue here is with the soy which is why we have chosen not to use soy in our products- this is not the same soy that is present in miso or natural tofu which a lot of people have been eating for years.  The soy present in these foods is a really processed soy, the protein of which is extracted with a chemical called hexane.  I came across this interesting article on the matter here hexane residues should really be tested for if you ask me.

At the food proteins summit in Holland last year, I posed the question to the Solae representative (the largest soy company) about the negative effects of eating too much soy, he flippantly remarked that people had been eating soy products in Asia for years with no harmful effects, I replied that the soy products in Asia were a result of natural fermentation processes and not extracted with a toxic chemical like hexane.  He went on to the next question.  That kind of response does not enamour me to the soy industry.

If you really want a “meaty” addition to your meal Seitan is a better bet and is a purer “wheat meat” .  This was a staple food among vegetarian buddhist monks in China and has been eaten in China, Japan, Korea, Russia and the Middle East for thousands of years and is made by making a dough with special flour and rinsing until you are left with the gluten which is simmered in a seasoned broth.  It goes great in stir fries.   I made a Seitan Chop Suey last week, the only fresh ingredients are peppers and mushrooms, you could keep the rest in your press for when a chinese craving hits you!


This is easy to make just chop up the seitan and leave in a marinade of corn flour, crushed ginger and soy sauce. Then stir fry a sliced green pepper, half a stick of celery, sliced,  a sliced onion and some sliced mushrooms for 3 mins, add a dash of soy sauce and rice wine and then add in a tin or bamboo shoots and a tin of beansprouts.  Pour in the marinade and seitan and a half cup of vegetable stock and a teensy drop of sesame oil.  This will be cooked faster than you can say “Golden Dragon” and is truly yum!


Author: Dee

‘Goodness is Tasty!’ It’s a philosophy I’ve always believed in, but it’s something I’ve found hard to see in reality on the shelves of my local supermarket when buying food. The situation was vividly brought home to me after completing my degree in Food Science at UCC. I was suddenly confronted with the truth about the array of additives that are routinely pumped into our foods and the effect it has on our health. They say knowledge is power and after my degree I was put on the path to a more natural, wholefood and plant-based diet.