Many vegetarian meat substitutes are soy-based, which can be problematic for vegetarians who have soy allergies or simply want a diverse diet. One alternative is seitan, a natural, non-industrial substitute that can easily be made at home. Its main ingredient is vital wheat gluten, wheat flour that has been processed to remove the starch and leave a high concentration of protein. The long strands of gluten give it a pleasantly meat-like chew, suitable for use in soups, stir-fries and other dishes.

Things You'll Need

Mix the water and vital wheat gluten in a bowl. Add small amounts of water and stir until the mixture begins to resemble dough.

Dust a bread board or other kneading surface with vital wheat gluten.

Roll the dough onto the kneading surface. Knead gently until the dough is springy and smooth.

Cut the dough into small squares or strips, roughly the size and shape of meat that’s been diced or cut into lengths for stir-fry. Flatten them slightly, because the proteins will contract as they’re cooked.

Pour the broth into a pot, along with soy sauce, fresh herbs or other flavorings as desired. Heat the broth to a simmer.

Slide the pieces of dough into the simmering broth, stirring to keep them separated. They should not stick together if you’ve kneaded them to a firm enough consistency.

Simmer the dough pieces for at least 30 minutes or up to an hour, turning occasionally. The seitan pieces will expand and firm up as they cook, absorbing the flavors of the liquid they’re cooked in.

Remove the seitan pieces from the pot with a slotted spoon, and let them cool. Use the seitan in your favorite meatless dishes, or refrigerate or freeze it for later use.