Having been a gym nerd in the past, I know how difficult it can be to consistently prep balanced meals, especially if the goal is to lose weight.
Regardless, meal prepping is essential, and although it does take a lot of time, I’d definitely suggest that you prep as many healthy meals as you can.
This will not only help you stay disciplined but there isn’t a single supplement out there that can replace a good, healthy diet with real food.
Still, time is of the essence, and it’s not always possible to spend time cooking.
For that reason, supplementing or replacing one of your meals with a meal replacement shake can be very effective — as it can help you drop weight (and shed fat) without jeopardizing the nutritional balance in your diet.
In this article, we have found what we consider to be the 3 best vegan meal replacement shakes, and we’ve also formulated a buying guide so that you know exactly what to look for when making a similar purchase in the future.
How to Choose The Best Vegan Meal Replacement Shakes
Assuming you’re interested in finding the best meal replacement shake, then there’s nothing more effective than learning how to read labels and understanding its content.
The goal of a meal replacement shake is to mimic balanced meals, and therefore, you want the macro and micronutrient content in meal replacement formulas to be balanced. A good product must have a good balance of carbs, proteins, fat, vitamins, minerals, and so on.
Here is typically what you should look for when searching for the ideal meal replacement shake:
|Protein Content||15-25 grams|
|Vitamins and Minerals||More than 17|
|Calories||Up to 400 calories per serving|
Meal replacement shakes are typically designed for weight loss, so they have only up to 400 calories per serving, which is comparatively less than weight gainers.
If you intend to gain weight (and not lose weight), I’d recommend checking out this list with some of my favorite best vegan weight gainers.
What To Avoid When Looking For a Meal Replacement Shake
From my viewpoint, you should avoid any meal replacement shakes that lack fiber or a variety of vitamins and minerals, as well as shakes that contain artificial flavors or ungodly amounts of sugar.
Opt for a supplement that is as natural as possible, otherwise, you’ll be ingesting properties that aren’t exactly good for longevity. The goal here is to achieve a goal (whether it be weight loss or gain) without jeopardizing your overall health.
What to Actually Look For in The Best Vegan Meal Replacement Shake
As I’ve mentioned earlier, it’s highly important to understand labels and understand the ingredients in them to be able to judge the quality of a product.
Aspects like taste are dependant on each person, but a good meal replacement shake should:
1 – Contain more protein than carbs (a two to one ratio)
Any good meal replacement shake has a good balance of macronutrients, meaning, it should contain a healthy amount of proteins, carbs, and fats. However, since meal replacement shakes are often intended for weight loss, what you will find is that most of them contain 50% more protein than carb-related content.
From a weight loss point of view, keeping carbs to a minimum is actually a well-known practice in the health and fitness industry.
2 – Has between 200 and 400 calories
Anything that provides your body with energy contains what’s referred to as calories, and generally, every food that you consume contains calories, which obviously varies based on the type of food you decide to ingest.
However, and this is important— if your body consumes more calories than the ones it actually needs, that energy is typically stored as fat. Conversely, if you consume fewer calories than the ones your body requires, you’ll experience weight loss.
Meal replacement shakes have a relatively small amount of calories per serving, which is why they’re an interesting approach if you intend to lose weight.
3 – A wide array of vitamins and minerals
Because it’s intended to replace a balanced meal, you have to ensure the meal replacement shake contains a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, or in other words, every micronutrient that you should be able to find in a well-prepared plant-based meal.
Also, as vegans, we want to be able to cover our blind spots and consider meal replacement shakes that contain micronutrients that are typically less accessible through a vegan diet.
This includes micronutrients like vitamin B12 (though it’s recommended that you take a b12 supplement) and calcium. Others that are often mentioned are iron and iodine, but they can be easily obtained via a diet.
4 – Should have some essential fatty acids
Yes, your body needs fat to function optimally— that is without question.
What remains questionable is whether or not you can survive from plant-based fats alone, given that EPA or DHA, which are vital Omega-3 fatty acids, can only be found in animals.
Plant-based sources like flaxseeds or chia seeds are typically rich in ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), which is yet another essential fatty acid.
ALA, when consumed, can be converted into EPA and DHA (albeit with a low rate of conversion), therefore it’s essential that you be disciplined about your intake of ALA-rich seeds to guarantee optimal levels of remaining essential Omega-3s. If that’s not the case, a meal replacement shake with a healthy dose of Omega-3 fatty acids can help.
5 – Should also contain some fiber
The reason why a well-planned plant-based diet is often considered for weight loss can also be linked to the fact it’s rich in fiber.
Fiber can keep you satiated for longer and slows down the breakdown of carbs, which will inevitably keep you fuller for longer, allowing you to also control your cravings a bit better.
Not to mention, fiber helps maintain your digestive system regulated and reduces bloating.
6 – Should be low on sugars
We can all agree that too much sugar can be bad for your health.
Not only does overconsumption force your liver to convert sugar into fat (and cause you to gain weight) but eating too much sugar can also affect your artery walls, causing inflammation, which can stress and damage your heart over time.
Put simply, too much sugar can lead to heart diseases such as strokes, heart failure, and heart attacks.
7 – Avoid formulas with corn syrup or hydrogenated vegetable oils
Corn syrup is a very concentrated and unhealthy form of sugar and hydrogenated vegetable oils are trans fats commonly used to lengthen a product’s shelf life. More importantly, these two ingredients are super unhealthy and are associated with weight gain.
Now that we’ve gone over these 7 different aspects, here is what I consider to be the 3 best vegan meal replacement shakes in the market right now:
Top 3 Vegan Meal Replacement Shakes
Organifi Meal Replacement Shake
The Complete Protein All in One Meal Replacement Shake by Organifi is a real alternative for those that wish to lose weight and wish to avoid formulas that are filled with weird substances or crappy fillers that jeopardize long-term health.
Even though Organifi has only been around since 2015, they’ve experienced massive success from their organic, clean, and superfood-filled formulas, which are clearly designed to help individuals shed body fat and live a more healthy lifestyle.
Ample Meal Replacement Shake
Ample is a highly nutritious meal replacement powder is an original formula that began as a crowdfunding project in Indiegogo in 2015, and ever since then it’s been fueling athletes, travelers, as well as busy professionals in the United States.
As far as quality goes, Ample is easily comparable to my previous preference, since the ingredients used in-formulation are authentic foods found in nature. However, Ample went one step further and implemented a smart ratio of macronutrients inspired by the latest scientific research, giving due emphasis on more foundational aspects of health.
Ideal Shape Meal Replacement Shake
This Ideal Shape meal replacement shake is part of a larger line of products that are designed to aid people with weight loss, while providing the essential ingredients for overall health.
However, as far as vegan-friendly products go, there are only two options: the Vegan Mocha flavor and the Vegan Vanilla Chai flavor, which are not as popular as non-vegan variations.
Still, they’re manufactured using the same blueprint, a mostly-natural formula made to specifically block hunger for three hours using Slendesta.
What Are Meal Replacement Shakes?
Meal replacement shakes are exactly what it sounds like — a healthy food product that is similar to a protein or a mass gainer supplement.
They typically come in powdered form, and they can be mixed with any liquids, typically milk or water, but unlike protein powders or mass gainers, the goal is to provide you with the same nutritional content a regular meal would.
In most cases, people opt for meal replacement shakes to lose weight, although there are instances in which people use meal replacement shakes to gain weight. Though, to be honest, if you intend to gain weight, replacing a meal with a meal replacement supplement is not ideal.
In fact, the best way is to actually NOT skip meals and supplement with gainers.
That being said, I believe a meal replacement supplement is far more useful if you want to lose weight because it’s easier to (a) track the number of calories you’re ingesting and (b), the number of calories present in a meal replacement shake is not absurdly high, unlike weight gainers.
Meal Replacement Shakes Are Proven to Help in Weight Loss
There is an interesting study that demonstrated the following: people who replaced one or two meals with a meal replacement shake for three months lost almost six pounds MORE than people who altered their diet to consume fewer calories.
What’s even more interesting is that at the one-year mark, participants that altered their diet to eat fewer calories dropped out of the study at a higher rate. In other words, people on a meal replacement shake managed to further sustain their weight loss plan compared to the other group.
As I’ve said earlier, if your ultimate goal is to GAIN weight, then replacing meals is not the most effective way to do that. Weight gainers exist for that reason.
Are Meal Replacement Shakes Different From Protein Shakes?
Some people don’t understand the difference between meal replacement shakes and protein shakes, but it’s quite easy to understand. If you look at the ingredients in each, you’ll note that there’s a massive difference because the purpose for each is fundamentally different.
Meal replacement shakes are designed to replace (well-rounded) meals, while protein shakes are designed to increase your protein intake to build muscle. In other words, the real purpose of a protein shake is to supplement your diet, not replace anything in it.
Protein powders don’t have the same nutrient integrity as meal replacement shakes, and they’re certainly poorer when it comes to vitamin and mineral content because the goal of meal replacement shakes is to ultimately provide you with the same benefits of a balanced meal.
Typically, protein powders just have a high protein content (about 25 grams per serving), but a meal replacement shake contains different macro and micronutrients, including protein.
Pros and Cons Of Meal Replacement Shakes
There are good and bad aspects of using meal replacement shakes in your diet, and so that you can better understand whether or not these are for you, I’d like to invite you to learn about both the advantages and disadvantages of routinely using meal replacement shakes.
Let’s start with the advantages.
Advantages Of Taking a Meal Replacement Shake
Save time in food prep and know exactly what you’re eating
Taking a meal replacement shake is a convenient way of getting a healthy meal without worrying about the composition of every important macro and micronutrient. With a meal replacement shake, you can save 30 minutes to 1 hour of your time preparing a meal, and you know exactly how many calories you’re ingesting, something that is very useful when losing weight.
Good for people that are constantly on the move
If you happen to be extremely busy and are constantly moving around from one place to the next and don’t have time to prep your meals during the week — grabbing a meal replacement shake is a good way to:
- Have a balanced meal without necessarily stopping to eat;
- Avoid eating fast-food or other foods that are rather unhealthy.
It’s easy to be swayed by the delicacies within local bakeries, fast-food chains, or restaurants, and frankly, it’s easy to get out of shape when eating at these places day in and day out.
A better alternative to fast-food or other unhealthy snacks
As long as you pick a meal replacement shake that hits all your nutritional bases, is low in sugar and has a more natural composition, I can certainly guarantee you that you’ll be better off.
These shakes are way more nutritious than burger and fries, or any other snack you’d usually grab in a vending machine, which is typically what anyone does when they’re hungry at work.
May contain all the nutrients your diet is lacking
Obviously, this depends on how organized you are with your meals, but more often than not, people don’t have a micronutrient approach to meal prepping.
As a result, most people end up creating meals with a rather poor nutrient composition.
With a meal replacement shake, you can essentially have a more well-rounded meal that fulfills your nutritional needs, which is a very important concept.
Help you lose weight much faster
A meal replacement shake is NOT a miracle solution for weight loss.
If you’re not disciplined with the remainder of your meals and lifestyle, a meal replacement shake will not make you lose weight by itself.
However, it’s definitely helpful in the sense that each serving is equivalent to a well-balanced meal with a low number of calories.
Disadvantages of Taking a Meal Replacement Shake
Certain brands use unhealthy ingredients
Keep in mind that not all meal replacement shakes are manufactured equally. Some may contain excess sugar, unhealthy or harmful ingredients like corn syrup or hydrogenated vegetable oil, and others might have a poor nutrient composition.
However, this is an aspect that is within your control, so as long as you learn about the different products available, you make an educated choice about the one that is ideal for you.
It’s not a substitute for a healthy diet
A meal replacement shake is not supposed to be an alternative to a healthy diet, it’s actually meant to help you maintain a healthy diet. If you’re taking a meal replacement shake but still eat bad food throughout the rest of the day, there’s no way you can be healthy or lose weight.
I’ve had a few friends that insisted on taking supplements like weight gainers, bcaas, creatine, and even testosterone boosters. However, they never managed to reach their fitness goals because their diet and exercise habits were massively failing.
If you’re planning to purchase a meal replacement shake, do keep that in mind.
Can be quite expensive, depending on how much you’re relying on it
A high-quality meal replacement shake can be quite expensive and each serving might actually be the equivalent of a small meal in a local brunch spot.
For that reason, you have to ensure everything is in alignment with your goals (weight loss or general health), otherwise, taking a meal replacement shake can quickly become a fruitless endeavor.
Our Favorite Vegan Meal Replacement Shake
Meal replacement shakes are typically formulated to help people lose weight, as they’re low in calories, but contain ingredients meant to keep you satiated for a longer time. However, that doesn’t mean any shake will work, and sometimes the only way to find the right meal replacement shake is by testing different options by yourself.
I’ve done my research, and thus far, there is only a small handful of meal replacement shakes that can (a) help you lose weight and (b) hit most people’s nutritional bases. In my opinion, the best option to start with is Organifi’s Vegan Meal Replacement Shake, because it contains ingredients that can keep you full for hours, it contains all the vitamins and minerals your body needs to sustain bodily functions, it’s low in sugars, and it’s a very CLEAN supplement that steers away from anything considered artificial.
That being said, it’s not the most affordable option, which is why I’ve also included in the list two other options, as they might better fit your budget.
Thank you for reading this article, and I hope it has helped you in the pursuit of a high-quality vegan meal replacement shake. See you around.
*This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you, if you purchase through these links. See my full disclosure here.