One of the first recommendations for anyone with weight loss goals is to fix their dietary macro balance and reduce the number of calories they take in. While all that may be fixed with a better meal plan, in the short term, meal replacement shakes could be the best solution.
However, there are some significant differences in meal replacements, both in quality and the right balance of macros. And once you start further narrowing things down to being dairy-free, you could end up quickly making the wrong decision.
For the past four months, our team has been working with some of our clients to test out the best dairy-free meal replacement shakes to weed out all the poor products for weight loss.
In addition to these health benefits, choosing dairy-free products contributes to reduced gas emissions and water conservation.
Here are our results.
The Best Dairy-Free Meal Replacement Shakes
- Best Overall Dairy Free Meal Replacement Shake: Instant Knockout Complete
- Cheapest Dairy Free Meal Replacement Shake: Garden of Life Vegan Meal Replacement
- Top-Rated Organic Non-Dairy Meal Replacement Powder: Orgain Organic Meal Powder
- Best Tasting Dairy-Free Meal Replacement Shake: Ample Original: Low-carb Meal Shake
- Best Low-Calorie Dairy Free Meal Replacement Shake: Organifi Complete Protein
- Top Choice Dairy-Free Meal Replacement Shake for Keto: Perfect Keto Collagen Peptides
- Best Lactose-Free Meal Replacement Shake for Bulking: Lean Body Ready-to-Drink
11 Top Dairy-Free Meal Replacement Shakes (December 2023)
1 - Instant Knockout Complete (Best Overall)
Our preferred meal replacement is Instant Knockout Complete, with only 400 calories but rich in 26 vitamins and minerals.
My experience with it revealed a beneficial mix of plant-based protein, oat flour, and golden flax seed. These ingredients support heart health, digestion, and nutrient absorption.
Its pea and soy protein content makes it vegan-friendly, and ideal for muscle growth and recovery, especially for athletes.
Additionally, flaxseed's omega-3 fatty acids promote heart health and its dietary fiber helps reduce blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
- Vegan-friendly ingredients
- Great for muscle growth and repair due to plant-based proteins
- Suitable for the heart with Omega-3 and 6
- Better mood with Chromium
- Only available on the official Instant Knockout website
I also found that the meal replacement shake only takes around 30 seconds to make. It’s an excellent feature for people always on the go.
2 - Orgain Organic Meal Powder (Top-Rated Organic Powder)
Our recommended choice for a small lunch replacement is Orgain Organic.
It's rich in plant-based protein and carbohydrates, aiding in hunger management and weight loss.
Its high organic fiber content also lowers the shake's calorie count.
My personal trial found the brown rice, chia seed, and pea protein blend both tasty and easy on the stomach.
Being soy and gluten-free, it's a great option for those with allergies
- Good source of protein and organic fiber nutrition for digestive health
- Free from allergens and artificial ingredients
- 100% vegan, soy-free, gluten-free, and non-GMO protein powder
- Comes in delicious chocolate and vanilla flavors
- Some people report it didn’t make them feel full enough
We however noted that it may not sustain fullness as long as other meal replacement shakes.
3 - Ample Meal Shake: High-Protein, Low-Carb (Best Tasting)
Another one on the list of dairy-free meal replacement protein shake products we tested out and the one we found the most suitable for the majority of our clients is Ample V.
Now, you do need to keep in mind that it’s higher in calories per serving, but that’s because it claims to be best suitable for replacing breakfast or a small lunch to lose weight.
The clients who tried this shake reported feeling fuller for longer. This might be due to the added fiber which has satiety benefits. Studies published by the Journal of the American College of Nutrition have proven fiber to be a good hunger suppressant .
- Good source of dairy-free protein and dietary fiber for your digestion
- Protein sources are mainly pea and whey protein
- Contains important vitamins and minerals for general health boosts
- Organically sourced ingredients
- Currently only available in one flavor
Add to that the good selection of vitamins and minerals, and it might just be one of the dairy free meal replacement shakes that could help with your overall health as well.
4 - Organifi Complete Protein (Best Low-Calorie)
If you’re looking for a lower-calorie meal replacement, you might opt for the Organifi Complete Protein Vanilla powder instead. It only has 170 calories per serving (2 scoops) with 20 grams of protein from quinoa, flax seed, pumpkin seed, and pea protein.
This pea protein supplement may work as a complete meal replacement shake or a protein supplement, depending on your diet requirements.
I found that Organifi Complete Protein Vanilla powder worked well for clients on a carb-restricted plan for weight loss. The blend of vitamins and minerals is quite impressive, too.
- Good source of protein, made with flax seed, quinoa, and pea protein isolate
- Has dietary fibers that may improve digestive health
- Plant-based protein shake, gluten-free, soy-free, and non-GMO
TThe chocolate flavor is a favorite among users, but I personally enjoy the vanilla more.
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5 - Garden of Life Meal Replacement Vanilla Powder (Cheapest Option)
Garden of Life's vegan meal replacements are popular among plant-based athletes, ideal for breakfast or a morning snack.
Athletes with dairy sensitivities often prefer this product for its plant-based protein, providing all essential amino acids for vegans and non-vegans alike.
Our analysis shows it primarily uses pea and brown rice protein, making it not only a fitting dairy-free option for vegan athletes but also a healthy choice for a balanced diet.
- Low in fat to not mess up your diet
- Good source of vegan and organic protein nutrition for athletes from pea and brown rice protein
- Suitable for vegans
- Not suitable for main meal replacement
Just keep in mind that it’s not quite suitable to replace a main meal in a single dose.
6 - Perfect Keto Collagen (Top Choice for Keto)
We know that a lot of our readers and clients go through regular cycles of the keto diet, and this is a dairy-free meal replacement shake that claims to be specifically designed to support ketosis.
With just 2 grams of carbohydrates per serving, it is one of the lowest carb options we could find.
While it’s not specifically designed to be a post-workout protein powder, I have seen a few people comment that they use it as a snack after a light cardio session.
- Specifically formulated for keto dieters
- Added MCT oil blend to support ketosis
- Nice selection of tasty flavors
- Some reports that it doesn’t mix that easily
Just keep in mind that it’s not quite suitable to replace a main meal in a single dose.
7 - Lean Body Ready-to-Drink Chocolate Protein Shake (Best for Bulking)
This dairy free meal replacement shake has been formulated to be heavy in protein, with an even balance of healthy fats and carbohydrates.
Especially for those looking for a low-sugar option, this might just tick the right boxes.
You also won’t need to worry about having to mix it as it comes as a ready-made shake. A ready to drink formula means it would likely be smoother than trying to shake up the powder on the go.
- Good balance of macros to support your diet
- Very low-sugar option makes it a healthier choice
- Convenient pre-mixed shakes
- Could contain a bit more minerals and vitamins
The only thing I would say it’s lacking is some higher amounts of vitamins to make it a more viable meal replacement shake.
8 - Vega One Organic All-in-one Shake
Vega One stands out in our dairy-free meal replacement shake list for its health-enhancing micronutrients.
Our experience highlights its pea protein isolate and added Omega-3 fatty acids, which, according to National Institutes of Health studies, may benefit immune responses and stress management .
- One of the better options for a wide range of essential vitamins and minerals
- Main source of protein is pea
- Contains some added antioxidants that could help with detox
- Good source of Omega-3 for heart and brain health
- Could become expensive for main meal replacement
While nutritionally dense, its main drawback is the small serving size. If used to replace larger meals, it could be one of the pricier options in the dairy-free meal replacement market.
9 - IDLife Meal Replacement & Weight Loss Protein Shake
IDLife is one of the newcomers to dairy free meal replacement shakes, and the main focus of this one is to provide a good boost of protein in the protein shake.
Apart from being heavy on protein, it’s also low in fat, which could be important for the majority of diets aiming to lose weight.
A few of my clients have some of the more common food intolerances, and they all found that this one didn’t tend to give them an upset stomach.
- Free from the most common allergens
- Contains one of the higher doses of protein available
- Sourced from grass-fed cows for a better quality product
- Currently only available in small pouches
One thing I would say is that this protein shake is not the best option if you need a larger meal replacement shake, as it’s only available in small pouches.
10 - Soylent Meal Replacement Shake
This chocolate-flavored option is a substantial dairy-free meal replacement shake, ideal for those needing a high-calorie intake, like bodybuilders.
At 400 calories, this soy protein supplement is perfect for days with increased activity or gym sessions.
However, it's carbohydrate-heavy. Be aware, that the taste is quite sweet, so if you prefer something less so, consider a vanilla flavor.
Despite its calorie content, it could benefit from additional protein sources like pea and brown rice protein.
- The pre-mixed creamy texture makes it easier when you’re on the go
- Claims to have slow-releasing carbs that make you feel full
- Contains a broad range of minerals and vitamins
- Some people found the soy protein a bit sweet tasting
11 - 310 Plant-Based Meal Replacement Shake
This is one of the dairy free meal replacement shakes that is high in protein per serving and low in fat with just a small amount of carbohydrates.
I have seen some athletes use it as a quick snack before a morning run, as it might just give enough of an energy boost with the right amount of nutrition due to its complete amino acid profile.
Personally, what I like most is that you can get a nice selection of flavors; chocolate and mocha are my favorites, and they’re even nicer when mixed together.
- Good blend of plant based protein from pea, rice, and hemp protein for a complete amino acid profile
- No added sugars or preservatives
- Available in a good selection of flavors for more variety
- No bulk containers available right now
The downside here is that you can only get relatively small pouches, which is the main reason it’s not higher on this list.
How We Tested the Products
Our rigorous four-month journey to find the best dairy-free meal replacement shakes was guided by a clear set of criteria:
- Nutritional Profile: We meticulously evaluated the macro and micronutrient balance of each shake, focusing on a comprehensive range of essential vitamins and minerals. Our goal was to find products that could effectively replace a regular meal nutritionally.
- Ingredient Quality: We thoroughly researched the quality of ingredients, prioritizing natural, wholesome components and avoiding artificial additives and preservatives. We recognized that ingredient quality is crucial for both health benefits and product integrity.
- Allergen Information: With a focus on dairy-free options, we rigorously reviewed manufacturing processes to exclude common allergens like nuts, soy, and gluten, addressing the needs of individuals with dietary restrictions.
- Taste and Flavor Options: Understanding the importance of taste for long-term use, we, along with our clients, sampled various flavors, assessing taste, texture, and overall satisfaction. We aimed to strike a balance between health benefits and enjoyable taste.
- Price and Value for Money: We assessed each product's cost-effectiveness, ensuring our recommendations were economically viable without compromising on quality. This involved considering price, nutritional density, and serving sizes.
Throughout this process, we closely collaborated with clients, integrating their feedback into our evaluation. This approach helped us gauge the real-world effectiveness of these shakes on individuals with diverse health goals and dietary needs.
What To Consider When Buying A Dairy-Free Meal Replacement Shake
Meat and eggs, while rich in protein, can cause digestive issues such as bloating, as evidenced by National Library of Medicine studies. .
Dairy-free shakes made from peas, flax seed, brown rice, and hemp offer essential nutrients with fewer digestive problems.
It's important to monitor the protein content in these shakes; 20 grams per serving is adequate for active individuals' body development and weight loss.
However, too much protein can be taxing on the organs, so moderation and consulting a dietician for tailored protein intake is advisable.
Carb content varies in meal replacements, impacting blood sugar and insulin production.
High carb intake can lead to fat storage and health issues like diabetes, while too low intake can cause temporary problems like headaches and muscle cramps.
The right amount of carbs provides energy for vital organs. Those on specific diets should carefully check carb content in meal replacements.
Fats, including healthy ones from plants like coconuts, are vital for energy, cell growth, and nutrient absorption.
However, excessive saturated fats increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Aim for meal replacements with no more than 10 grams of fat per serving, preferably from quality sources.
Always scrutinize the fat content on the label, especially when trying to lose weight.
4. Vitamins And Minerals
This is one thing so many people completely ignore from a nutrition perspective. When you replace an actual meal with powdered products, then it needs to provide more than protein from a nutrition perspective.
If the label is lacking in micronutrients, then it may be best to find something more suitable. Never compromise your long-term health by settling in cheaper but less-packed dairy-free protein powder brands.
We recommend: Huel Dairy-Free Meal Replacement Shake
How To Use Meal Replacement Shakes For Best Results
I recommend clients use these supplements as a breakfast or morning snack replacement.
Homemade dairy-free shakes with 10 to 20 grams of protein, as recommended by National Institutes of Health research, support weight loss and management .
Athletes can benefit from smaller post-workout servings to promote fat burning.
These shakes are particularly suitable for lactose-intolerant individuals needing post-exercise protein supplementation.
Also Read: Best Meal Replacement Shakes
The nice thing about protein powders is that you can turn it into a meal replacement or a weight gainer simply by adding other ingredients to your protein shake.
- Matt Weik, Personal Trainer
Are Meal Replacement Shakes Good for Weight Loss?
Yes, dairy-free meal replacement shakes are good for weight loss as long as they become part of a balanced and low-calorie diet. They promote satiety while being low in calories. They are not a replacement for meals but work well when combined with a balanced diet
Can You Live Off Meal Replacement Shakes?
No, you cannot live off meal replacement shakes alone. They are mainly designed to replace snacks or breakfast and shouldn’t be used for every single meal. It’s a better idea to use them to cut down on unhealthy snacking during the day and lose weight as a result.
How Long Can You Stay On Meal Replacement Shakes?
You can stay on dairy free meal replacement shakes for many months at a time as long as they don’t replace too much of your food intake. Some of the best meal replacement shakes are designed to be taken indefinitely, especially to give you a jumpstart to the day. Ask your dietician to determine the best way to consume your nutritional shake and maximize their benefits.
Can You Replace 2 Meals a Day With a Protein Shake?
Yes, you can replace 2 meals a day with dairy free protein shakes, but this is not something you should do on a regular or prolonged basis. While the grams of protein per serving may support losing weight, you could end up deficient in other important nutrition. As such, only do this when your schedule gets too hectic to prepare for a full meal.
Which Meal Replacement Should You Try?
After thorough testing and evaluation of various dairy-free meal replacement shakes, my team and I unanimously agree that Instant Knockout Complete stands out as the best. Its balanced blend of nutrients, coupled with a satisfying taste, made it a favorite.
We were particularly impressed by its comprehensive mix of vitamins, minerals, and plant-based proteins.
Our hands-on experience, combined with its nutritional profile, solidifies Instant Knockout Complete as the top choice for anyone seeking a high-quality dairy-free meal replacement.
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