Whether you want to lose weight, gain weight or are just short on time to cook healthy plant-based meals, vegan meal replacement shakes can be a real saviour.
Cooking well-balanced vegan meals can take a lot of thought and planning, so substituting some of your meals with shakes can be a quick and easy way to make sure that you’re getting all of the nutrients that your body needs to thrive.
Most traditional meal replacement shakes contain whey protein (which is made from cows’ milk). However, there are lots of vegan meal replacement shakes to choose from. Too many, if anything!
To help you find the best meal replacement shake for your vegan diet, I’ve spent over 12 hours researching all the options, reading all of the good and bad reviews and analysing the ingredients in great detail.
Of course, not everyone has that much time to devote to research. If you don’t have time to read all of my findings and just want links to the best vegan meal replacement shakes, those are here for you:
Read on to learn what to look for in a shake and see reviews of the best vegan meal replacement shakes to buy in the UK.
What to look for in a good vegan meal replacement shake
All meal replacement shakes are not equal. In fact, they vary hugely in terms of the ingredients, the taste and the price.
You’ll certainly want to make sure that you’re making a healthy choice when choosing your shake, so here’s what you need to look out for…
Calories – Shakes to help you lose weight typically have under 300 calories per serving, while those that are designed to help you bulk up will have 400 or more. The calories are based on mixing with water, although you may choose to mix with plant milk or add some fruit such as banana to increase the calories.
Vitamins and minerals – The best meal replacement shakes pack in more nutrients than you would get from a balanced meal, meaning that you might not need to take a separate vitamin supplement.
Protein – High-protein shakes are ideal for those who work out, as they will help to build muscle, or to prevent muscle loss if you burn more calories than you consume. Brown rice protein is a great option, as is pea protein. Having more than one type of plant protein is preferred as your body will benefit from a greater profile of amino acids.
Fibre – This will help keep you fuller for longer, maintain good digestive function and reduce bloating
What to avoid in a meal replacement shake
Artificial ingredients – Some meal replacement shakes naturally taste terrible so they’re loaded up with artificial sweeteners and flavours. Studies have shown that artificial sweeteners can cause sugar cravings which will lead to weight gain if you end up snacking on sugary treats.
Sugar – Meal replacement shakes that are packed with sugar is the last thing that you want. Ideally, you’ll want the sugar to be less than half of the total carbohydrate content.
The best vegan meal replacement shakes – Buying guide
In the table below, you can see an overview of the best vegan meal replacement shakes.
|Brand||Cals||Protein||Reason to buy||Price per shake||Where to buy|
|Protein Works||219||20g||Best taste||£1.75||Buy now|
|Puriton||184||14.5g||14 flavours||£1.91||Buy now|
|Myvegan||423||30g||Most protein||£1.20||Buy now|
|Garden of Life||120||20g||Best gluten-free||£1.75||Buy now|
|Free Soul||230||18.2g||Made for women||£1.60||Buy now|
|SlimFast||220||21.2g||Well-known brand||£1.67||Buy now|
Vegan meal replacement shake reviews
Read on for reviews of each of the top meal replacement shakes, including nutritional info and the pros and cons of each. I’ve also included links to the best places to buy them online.
⭐ Best overall
✅Calories: 219 ✅Fat: 2.8g ✅Carbs: 27g ✅Sugar: 3.1g ✅Protein: 20g
This vegan meal replacement shake from The Protein Works is low in calories as it’s designed to help with weight loss as part of a calorie-controlled diet. That said, you could choose to add some plant milk and fruit to create a smoothie for a more substantial meal.
High in protein, it contains five different types of plant-based protein – pea, soy, brown rice, hemp and sunflower. This means that you can be sure that you’re getting the benefit of all of the different amino acids.
This shake comes in six flavours – Banana Smooth, Choc Hazelnut Heaven, Chocolate Silk, Salted Caramel, Strawberries ‘n’ Cream and Vanilla Cream. The Chocolate Silk has the best reviews.
The Protein Works also has an ‘Extreme’ version of this meal replacement shake which has lower calories, higher protein and some added ingredients like Green Tea Extract, L-Carnitine and MCT Powder which will give you an energy boost.
This shake is the best by reviews, as people are raving over the delicious taste and high-quality ingredients.
- Comes in 6 flavours
- Comes in 4 sizes
- Contains 5 kinds of protein
- Tastes great
- Good value
- Contains artificial sweetener (sucralose)
⭐ Best for weight loss
✅Calories: 184 ✅Fat: 11g ✅Carbs: 5.7g ✅Sugar: 2.4g ✅Protein: 14.5g
If you’re looking for a low-calorie, low-fat vegan diet shake, then Purition is the best vegan meal replacement shake for weight loss.
Available in a huge choice of 14 tempting flavours including blackcurrant, pistachio and coconut, these meal replacement shakes contain only natural wholefood plant-based ingredients from real food.
High in fibre and very low in carbs, these gluten-free vegan meal replacement shakes will leave you feeling full without raising blood sugar levels so you won’t be tempted by sugary treats.
As Puriton vegan meal replacement shakes are made with only real food, they do not dissolve easily so it’s best to use a blender to mix them to avoid lumps.
- 100% natural ingredients
- Freshly made in the UK
- Comes in 14 flavours
- Best to use a blender
- Some flavours have only one kind of protein
- More expensive than some others
⭐ Best for weight gain
✅Calories: 423 ✅Fat: 15g ✅Carbs: 40g ✅Sugar: 3.9g ✅Protein: 30g
Myvegan Whole Fuel Blend is a nutritionally rich powdered supplement that has the perfect ratio of macro- and micro-nutrients that your body needs. It comes in three flavours – chocolate, vanilla and vanilla raspberry.
This meal replacement shake contains pea and brown rice protein and each serving contains 20 to 40% of the essential vitamins and minerals that you need each day. It’s higher in calories than the others, making it ideal for those who want to increase their muscle mass and body weight.
Reviewers are raving about the chocolate flavour, whereas the vanilla has mixed reviews with some people saying that it tastes too sickly for them
- Contains 30g of protein
- Comes in 3 flavours
- Contains pea and rice protein
- Good value
- Vanilla flavour is very sweet
⭐ Best gluten-free shake
✅Calories: 120 ✅Fat: 2g ✅Carbs: 8g ✅Sugar: <1g ✅Protein: 20g
Garden of Life RAW Organic shake is a nutritious vegan meal replacement shake that comes in three flavours – chocolate, vanilla and lightly sweetened.
Made with high-quality, USDA-certified organic ingredients, this meal replacement powder has no added sugars, fillers or artificial colours, flavours, sweeteners or preservatives. Online reviews say that this shake tastes sweet and milky, despite having very low sugar and no artificial sweeteners.
This shake has only 120 calories, which is very low to be considered as a meal. You may wish to use this between meals as a snack to ensure that you’re getting enough calories.
One major downside is that this product is made in the USA, so it has a rather heavy carbon footprint. Garden of Life was also acquired by Nestle in 2017, which may be a reason for some ethically conscious people to avoid it.
- 100% organic ingredients
- Comes in 3 flavours
- Contains live probiotics
- Ships from the US
- Owned by Nestle
- Very low in calories
⭐ Cheapest shake
✅Calories: 210 ✅Fat: 3.2g ✅Carbs: 19g ✅Sugar: 3.1g ✅Protein: 26g
USN Vegan Diet Fuel is an excellent choice for vegans looking for the best meal replacement shake for weight loss. This product has excellent reviews on Amazon with reviewers commenting that it mixes well, tastes great and keeps them feeling full for five hours.
Each of the three flavoured shakes – chocolate, strawberry and vanilla – contain a hefty 26g of protein. As the protein is a mix of pea, rice and soya, it’s sure to meet the demands of hard training athletes.
This is the lowest priced shake and the pack size is quite small at 880g. So, if you’ve never tried a meal replacement shake before and aren’t sure if they’re for you, this would be a solid option to go with.
- Only 16 servings per pack
✅Calories: 230 ✅Fat: 4.9g ✅Carbs: 25.5g ✅Sugar: 10.7g ✅Protein: 18.2g
Free Soul Dual-Use shakes can be used as a protein shake or as a complete meal replacement. They have been formulated especially for the female body with optimum proportions of nutrients that women need to stay healthy.
This shake is available in chocolate or vanilla flavour. Both have excellent reviews on Amazon.
- Formulated for women
- Contains 3 kinds of protein
- Made in the UK
- Only 2 flavours
- Only 15 servings per pack
✅Calories: 220 ✅Fat: 7g ✅Carbs: 15.3g ✅Sugar: 0.7g ✅Protein: 21.2g
Popular weight-loss shake brand SlimFast has two vegan-friendly SlimFast shakes in the Vitality range – Strawberry & Blueberry Burst and Intense Mint Chocolate. Vegans should be aware that the other SlimFast Vitality flavours contain milk.
SlimFast vegan shakes are packed with protein, fibre and a third of your recommended vitamins and minerals. They’re gluten-free, dairy-free and low in calories.
The ingredients in SlimFast aren’t the best, with the protein coming only from soya and lots of artificial ingredients like soy lecithin, sodium carboxy methyl cellulose and sucralose.
- Only 2 flavours
- Contains artificial ingredients
- Tastes artificial
- Protein comes from soya
- Approved by The Vegan Society
The pros and cons of meal replacement shakes
- Save time – Cooking healthy meals can take a lot of time so meal replacement shakes can be helpful during times when we know we’ll be busier than usual
- Eat well while away from home – When vegan options are limited, it can be hard to find healthy, affordable meals to eat on the go
- Know exactly what you’re eating – Tracking your diet is easy when you know exactly what’s in every serving
- Can be healthier than food – It’s hard to achieve a perfectly balanced diet without putting a lot of effort into meal prep
- A quick way to lose weight – Meal replacement shakes can be lower in calories than meals, yet keep you fuller for longer
- Not as exciting as real food – Having the same shake every day can be boring, so it’s good to have different flavours and to eat normal food as well
- Can be more expensive than food – Some brands of vegan meal replacement shakes are quite expensive
- Some brands use unhealthy ingredients – Check the ingredients to make sure that your shake doesn’t contain a lot of sugar or artificial ingredients
How to use vegan meal replacement shakes
You can use meal replacement shakes to replace either your breakfast, lunch or dinner. You may wish to replace two meals per day, but in most cases, you would benefit from eating solid food for eat least one meal per day.
You can mix your vegan meal replacement shake with water or your choice of plant milk such as soy, oat, coconut or rice milk. Adding plant milk rather than water is a good way to increase calories for those who are looking to bulk up.
For those wishing to increase body mass, a meal replacement shake can be a good alternative to a protein shake to aid recovery post-workout.
You can adjust the amount of liquid that you add to make a shake that’s thicker or thinner to suit your personal taste.
What’s the difference between meal replacement shakes and protein powder?
Meal replacement shakes and protein powders are not the same thing. Protein powders contain a large dose of protein which is of benefit to people who follow strict workout regimes to repair damaged muscles. They should be consumed in addition to meals.
Meal replacement shakes contain everything you need for a balanced meal including carbohydrates, protein, fat, fibre, vitamins and minerals. They can be used as a substitute for a meal to encourage weight loss or weight gain.
Are vegan meal replacement shakes only for weight loss?
Vegan meal replacement shakes aren’t just for weight loss. While they can be great for weight loss, they’re also used by people with busy schedules, who might not always have access to healthy vegan food or who want to make sure that they’re getting a healthy diet.
Can you use vegan meal replacement shakes for every meal?
Vegan meal replacement shakes contain all of the essential nutrition that you need. So in theory, you could survive on shakes alone, but this isn’t recommended. It’s best to consume plant-based food as well and limit your meal replacement shakes to once or twice per day.
Do meal vegan replacement shakes work?
Whether you’re looking to lose weight or gain weight, it all comes down to the calories that you consume and burn each day as to whether you will be successful in reaching your goals.
The best vegan meal replacement shakes for weight loss are much lower in calories than an average meal. So provided that you keep up the same level of energy expenditure, you will lose weight.
With high-calorie meal replacement shakes, if you want to bulk up you should ensure that your total calorie intake each day is greater than the energy that you burn. It’s recommended that you work out in order to build healthy lean muscle, rather than just extra fat.
Are began meal replacement shakes as effective as dairy-based shakes?
Vegan protein shakes are the only option for vegans, plant-based people and those with lactose intolerance or a cows’ milk allergy. But are they for everyone?
Well, you may be surprised to learn that vegan meal replacement shakes are just as effective as non-vegan ones, and in some cases, they’re actually better.
Most standard meal replacement shakes are made from whey protein, which is made from cows’ milk. Whey protein is a complete protein with a complete amino acid profile, whereas plant-based proteins tend to be deficient in some amino acids.
It’s easy to get around that by choosing a vegan meal replacement shake that’s made from several different plant proteins. If you combine brown rice protein and pea protein, you’ll get all the same amino acids that are found in whey.
Of course, by choosing the vegan option, you’re also helping to lower your carbon footprint and prevent cows from the welfare issues surrounding dairy farming.
Which is the best vegan meal replacement shake?
The best vegan meal replacement shake by reviews is The Protein Works Vegan Meal Replacement. This great-tasting plant-based shake comes in six flavours and four different package sizes.
Made with five different plant proteins and low in calories, fat and sugar, it offers all of the nutrients you need to replace a healthy, balanced meal.
The bottom line
Vegan meal replacement shakes can be a great way to lose weight, build muscle or to ensure an adequate intake of nutrients at times when it’s not easy to eat healthily.
Diet shakes are designed to be used once or twice per day, in addition to healthy, calorie-controlled meals for maximum effectiveness.