|November 30th, 2013|
|food, veg, meat|
When I was looking at the efficiency of meat I looked some at the efficiency of alternatives. I noticed that seitan is made by keeping just the protein component of wheat and throwing away the rest, and wrote:
While flour is 10-15% gluten, seitan uses high-gluten flour, and so about 14% of the original wheat becomes seitan. This is about 7 calories [of] wheat per calorie [of] seitan. This is worse than the 2.2 calories [of] corn per calorie [of] beef we got above.
Aside from being confusing, this has a key mistake. The problem is that neither meat nor meat substitutes are entirely protein. I compared beef at around 25% protein to pure gluten at 100% protein. In other words if you want to get the same number of grams of protein from seitan as you get from an amount of beef you only need to eat 1/4th as much. We should redo the calculation to go from pounds of raw grain to grams of protein  to get a fair comparison. 
To get 100 grams of protein from wheat (as gluten) you would need 1.5 pounds of grain while to get it from corn (via beef) you would need 3 pounds.  To make veggie meat with the same protein density as beef, you'd need ~2 pounds of wheat per pound of veggie meat, compared to ~4 pounds of corn per pound of beef. Seitan isn't as inefficient as I had thought.
(I think other kinds of veggie meat like tofu, tempe, and TVP are more efficient than seitan by this metric. Though they are also concentrations and I haven't looked at them in detail.)
 It's weird that we use British units for typical measurements but metric ones for nutritional quantities.
 This also conflates 'wheat' with 'flour', but this turns out not to be a problem because 'wheat' generally means 'wheat berries' and 'flour', whole-wheat at least, is just ground wheat berries. So one pound of wheat yields one pound of flour.
 100g is 0.22 lbs. 14% of wheat is protein, so 0.22lbs of wheat protein requires 1.57 lbs of wheat. 25% of beef is protein and a pound of beef requires 3.7 pounds of corn, so 0.22lbs of beef protein requires 3.25 lbs of corn.
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