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Ask the rabbi Shabbat and Holidays Chametz and Pesach Products

Vegan Passover - Seitan

Question
Hi, I am vegan, and so passover can be a challenge protein-wise. Would you consider seitan (meat substitute made from wheat gluten but not the actual carb-part) to be kosher for passover? Thanks. - Allie
Answer
Shalom, Thank you for your question. I'm sorry that it did not get to me before now – and I hope that my answer will still be of some use to you (if not this year, then for next Passover). On Passover, as you know, we refrain from any Hametz. Hametz is defined as when any of the five Biblical grains (wheat, rye, barley, oats and spelt) come into contact with water and are left to rise – which will happen quite quickly if the dough is not baked immediately, as we do when making matzah (where we bake the dough made of a flour water combination within 18 minuets of the water being mixed with the flour). As far as I can ascertain, seitan “is made by washing wheat flour dough with water until all the starch granules have been removed, leaving the sticky insoluble gluten as an elastic mass which is then cooked before being eaten” (Wikipedia). That seems to imply that the seiten comes from a dough (wheat flour and water mixed together) which itself would be hametz, even before the washing process. This being so, the answer is that seiten is forbidden on Passover – and is probably pure hametz, like bread. May I suggest the following products which are acceptable forms of protein for Vegans on Passover – nuts, quinoa, and if you are Sephardi you may also have beans and lentils. Blessings.
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