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For this review, I have compared the top 8 vegan meal replacement shakes on the market, including Ambronite, Ample, Huel, Soylent, Super Body Fuel and more.
|Garden of Life||(2/5)|
|Super Body Fuel||(4.5/5)|
While I am not vegan, I often consume meal replacement drinks when I don’t have time for a proper meal. That’s usually when I’m traveling and don’t have access to healthy sources of food. Others may leverage such products to lose weight or if they are on a special diet, such as Keto. Whatever your reasons might be, meal replacement shakes can offer a convenient alternative to solid food or food delivery services.
In case you are new to the vegan lifestyle, let me clarify what the characteristics of a healthy vegan meal shake are. In a nutshell, vegans don’t use products from animal sources. From the perspective of a plant-based diet, that means, avoiding such things as:
In comparison to traditional meal replacement drinks, vegan meal shakes contain plant-based protein from soybeans, brown rice, or peas, as well as alternative sweeteners, such as maple sugar.
Manufacturers have saturated the market with mostly unhealthy products. So when you look for healthy meal replacement options, make sure to check the label for the following ingredients:
Given the size of the table and the available screen space, especially on mobile devices, I decided to create a more detailed PDF that you can request via email using the form below. If you prefer the on-screen version instead, you’ll have to scroll horizontally to see the full table.
|Ambronite||Ample V||Garden of Life||Huel||Soylent Drink||Soylent Café||Soylent Powder||Super Body Fuel Super Fuel|
|True Meal Replacement||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Ready to drink||With Water||With Water||With Water||With Water||Yes||Yes||With Water||With 2 Tablespoons of Oil and Water|
|Sugar||12.5g||4g||Less than 1g||1g||9g||9g||15g||0g|
|Protein Source||Oats, Almonds||Pea, Rice||Various (plant-based)||Brown Rice, Pea||Soy||Soy||Soy||Oats, Brown Rice|
|Fat Source||Sea-buckthorn, Flax Seed, Almonds||Coconut Oil, High Oleic Sunflower Oil, Macadamia Nut Oil, Sunflower Lecithin||Various (plant-based)||Sunflower Lecithin, MCTs from Coconut, Flax Seed||Sunflower Oil||Sunflower Oil, Canola Oil||Canola Oil||Added oil|
|Cost per serving||$5.85||$7.00||$1.61||$2.79||$2.66||$3.20||$1.74||$2.50|
If you would like to give Ambronite a try, make sure to use code MK and get 25% off your purchase.
Ambronite is a plant-based meal that consists entirely of organic, whole food ingredients, including fruits and vegetables, digestive enzymes, and other superfoods. Ambronite is also relatively Paleo-friendly and contains oats and guar gum as the only non-Paleo ingredients.
While Ambronite delivers the right amount of protein per serving, it’s a little light on fat. As a result, you need 2.5 servings to get sufficient calories and fat out of it to replace a meal. That’s perfectly fine, but keep in mind that it increases the cost per serving by the same factor, bringing it to the level of Ample. To let Ambronite qualify as a meal replacement drink, I have assumed 2.5 servings in the table below.
|Price||$23.40 for ten servings|
|Cost per serving||$5.85|
After I published this review, Ambronite was so kind to send me some samples to try and taste. While Ambronite tastes entirely different from most of the other meal replacement drinks I have tried, I liked it. When I mixed a single serving of Ambronite with water, I noticed that it was not as thick as Ample, Huel or Super Body Fuel. That makes sense because a single meal has 2.5x fewer calories and is thus less dense. From a taste perspective, imagine Ambronite to taste like a mix of oatmeal with fruits, finished with water instead of milk. Of course, you can always use coconut milk, almond milk or something else to tweak the taste and thickness of Ambronite.
I like Ambronite because it can be both a snack or a full meal, depending on how much powder you use. The single serving packs are incredibly practical for traveling, just don’t forget to bring a shaker bottle to mix it.
To save an additional 15%, you can use discount code MK15 upon checkout. You can combine my code with Ample’s subscription option, which saves you an additional 10%.
|Price||$42.00 ($51.00) for 6 bottles|
|Cost per serving||$7.00 ($6.65)|
I’m not a Vegan, but I recently had the chance to try Ample V 2.1, and while the taste was OK, I prefer the Ample Original or Ample K. The major difference between Ample V and the original formula is the source of protein. The human body absorbs plant-based protein, including Pea protein slower than animal protein. Plus, plant-based protein has, on average, a weaker amino acid profile than Whey or egg white protein. That said, Pea and Brown Rice protein are viable choices, and they are certainly healthier than Soy.
Update: Since publishing this roundup, Ample Foods has released version 3.0 of its vegan formula. Check out what’s new in this article.
I’m a fan of Garden of Life products, especially their probiotics they developed together with Dr. David Perlmutter, author of Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar–Your Brain’s Silent Killers. As far as their Organic Shake & Meal Replacement powder is concerned, I think it’s a good protein shake, but it doesn’t replace a meal due to lack of calories and fat. You’d have to consume five servings to get the same amount of fat than other meal replacement shakes. To work around that issue, you can certainly add a few teaspoons of olive- or avocado oil. That will increase both the fat and calories to acceptable levels.
|Sugar||Less than 1g|
|Price||$22.60 for 14 servings|
|Cost per serving||$1.61|
With 500 calories per serving, Huel, one of the primary Soylent competitors, offers filling meal replacement drink that is vegan-friendly and doesn’t contain lactose. Huel also provides a gluten-free formula, which is the one I reviewed. The primary sources of protein in Huel are oats, peas, flaxseed and brown rice, which reduces its Paleo score slightly.
If mixed with water, the unflavored version of Huel tastes like oatmeal (made with water). I consider the taste of oats to be somewhat neutral, but I appreciate that others may want to add some flavor by blending Huel with fruits or cocoa powder. You could also use nut milk instead of water, but, of course, that decreases the convenience factor of using Huel while traveling. The Starter Kit comes with a booklet that some a couple of recipes on how to add different tastes to Huel.
Speaking of traveling – I’d highly recommend bringing the shaker (or something similar) you get as part of the Huel Starter Kit on trips. I had Huel this morning in my hotel in Zurich and tried to funnel the powder into a regular water bottle using a sheet of paper. It was a bit of a mess, and I’ll bring a shaker or container with a wider mouth next time.
Huel is also available with flavors, but I prefer the unflavored and unsweetened version of Huel because the flavored versions have Sucralose. Both flavored and unflavored versions also have:
I can swallow the artificial ingredients and gums (pun intended), but I have an aversion against artificial sweeteners, such as sucralose. Unlike public opinion and previous research, sucralose may change how the body reacts to glucose, for example after eating carbohydrates. I have written about that already in my review of natural pre-workout supplements, but here is the link to an abstract of the study I referenced in that article.
As a result, I have based my review and rating on the unflavored, unsweetened, and gluten-free formula of Huel. To see how Huel vs. Soylent compares at the bottom of this review.
It’s worth noting that Huel launched a ready-t0-drink version to complement its powder cousin. I haven’t tried that yet and I probably won’t because, much like the flavored Huel powder, the pre-bottled drink has Sucralose.
Huel is transparent about the fact that they use conventionally grown, as opposed to organic, ingredients. The primary reason why the company decided to go the conventional route is cost. Huel’s goal is to deliver a nutritious meal at a low price. By using only organic ingredients, Huel would have to charge more for their product. I appreciate that not everyone can afford pasture-raised meats and organic produce and, thus, consider Huel an excellent alternative. It’s also worth noting that Huel is non-GMO, even if they don’t advertise it as such.
|Price||$78.00 for 28 meals|
|Cost per serving||$2.79|
The mission of Soylent is to expand access to quality nutrition through food system innovation.
It’s hard to maintain a healthy diet. Everyone eats, but everyone feels like they could be eating better. If you’ve ever wasted time and energy trying to decide what to eat for lunch, or have been too busy to eat a proper meal – Soylent is for you.
Soylent offers its meal replacement drink in liquid or powdered form. Plus, Soylent is available in three different flavors and a caffeinated version:
The powder comes either in resealable pouches and contains five 400-calorie servings or in a tub that includes twelve 400-calorie servings. For traveling by plane, the powder would be my first choice as I could not bring liquids in my carry-on luggage. But for other types of travel, I could comfortably bring the bottled version of Soylent as it doesn’t have to be refrigerated before opening it. For this comparison, I have tried only the Original formula.
Soylent is very transparent when it comes up their labeling. Soylent spells out what rules and regulations its ingredients are compatible with and which ones aren’t.
Soylent is not:
Unfortunately, and despite all their transparency, Soylent is not a health product as you can read here.
Soylent includes a balanced mix of protein, fat, and carbohydrates with too much added sugar in my opinion. A bottle of Soylent Original contains 9 gram of added sugar.
Looking at the label, Soylent contains the following sources of protein, fat, and carbs:
Other Ingredients: Filtered Water, Natural & Artificial Flavors, Salt
Soylent has a complete and potent blend of vitamins. Each bottle delivers 20% of the recommended daily amount (RDA) of vitamins.
Soylent contains some ingredients that are not Paleo-compatible, including:
Despite what the food industry wants to make you believe, soy is not healthy food. It contains lectins that negatively influence your body’s leptin sensitivity. That, in turn, confuses your body’s hunger and energy expenditure signals. PaleoLeap has an excellent article about the disadvantages of soy. A more scientific explanation is available on thepaleodiet.com. Also, nearly all of Soylent’s sources of carbs are Paleo-incompatible.
Soylent is relatively inexpensive because its ingredients are inexpensive. Soy is one of the cheapest sources of protein, and it is comparatively simple to process. The Original 400-calorie formula of Soylent costs $2.66 per bottle. The Café, Strawberry and Cacao flavors cost $3.09 per bottle, regardless of how many bottles you order, and seven pouches of the Soylent powder cost $60.80. If you subscribe, you get an additional 5% off.
More information about Soylent is available via the following links: