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 4 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.
Here are our results.
10 Top Dairy-Free Meal Replacement Shakes
1 - Orgain Organic Meal Powder (Editor's Choice)
Our top option for a small lunch replacement is this one from Orgain Organic. It contains quite a lot of vegan protein and carbohydrates in each serving, which should help you to better cope with hunger.
This is mainly due to a good amount of organic fiber, which also reduces the total calorie count of the protein shake.
The protein shake is a blend of brown rice, chia seed, and pea protein. As a soy and gluten-free option, people with the most common allergies should be fine.
- Good source of protein and organic fiber nutrition for digestive health
- Free from allergens and artificial ingredients
- 100% vegan protein, 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
The only thing we noted in our research is that a few reviews mentioned that they didn’t feel full for long enough with this Orgain Organic product, something that most meal replacement shakes claim.
2 - Ample Meal Shake: High-Protein, Low-Carb
Another one on the list of dairy-free meal replacement protein shakes 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.
Apart from its protein content, it also has added fiber to help you to feel full for longer. Fiber has been clinically proven to be a good hunger suppressant .
- Good source of dairy-free protein and dietary fiber for your digestion
- Protein sources are mainly whey and pea 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.
3 - Organifi Complete Protein Vanilla
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.
It may work as a complete meal replacement or a protein supplement, depending on your diet requirements.
It’s also not high on the carb department. This means that this vegan protein may work even if you’re on a carb-restricted plan. The blend of vitamins and minerals is quite impressive, too.
- Good source of protein, made with flax seed, quinoa, and pea protein
- 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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4 - Garden of Life Meal Replacement Vanilla Powder
Garden of Life products have become quite popular with plant-based athletes, and if you’re looking for vegan meal replacements to cover breakfast or a morning snack, then this could be a good choice.
Many athletes who have digestive issues with dairy products are favoring this blend of vegan protein, as it could be suitable for delivering all the essential amino acids, whether you’re vegan or not.
With a lot of protein sources, it mostly contains pea and brown rice protein.
So it’s not just suitable for vegan athletes, but also a healthy choice for a more balanced dietary approach.
- Low in fat to not mess up your diet
- Good source of organic and vegan 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.
5 - Perfect Keto Collagen
We know that a lot of our readers and clients go through regular cycles of keto diet, and this is one of dairy-free meal replacement shakes 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.
6 - Lean Body Ready-to-Drink Chocolate Protein Shake
This dairy-free meal replacement 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 replacement for food.
7 - Vega One Organic All-in-one Shake
Vega One is the next product on our dairy-free meal replacements list, and what we all liked the most about it was the added health-boosting micronutrients.
Aside from pea protein, there are also some added healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. Studies have shown that these ingredients may play a role in immune responses and the ability to deal with stress .
- One of the better options for a wide range of vitamins and minerals
- Main source of protein is pea protein
- 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
It doesn’t skimp on nutrition, but the only real negative is that it’s quite a small protein shake, and if you need to replace a larger meal, then it could become one of the more expensive dairy-free meal replacement shakes on the market.
8 - IDLife Meal Replacement & Weight Loss Protein Shake
IDLife is one of the newcomers to 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.
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 is not the best option if you need to replace larger meals, as it’s only available in small pouches.
9 - Soylent Meal Replacement Shake
Here’s another one of the chocolate-favored options on the team for a more substantial dairy-free meal replacement protein shake.
At 400 calories, it might also be suitable for bodybuilders trying to get a high volume of calories without having to sit down for another meal.
The macro balance is more tilted towards carbohydrates, which might not be a problem as long as you’re taking it on days when you’re going to be more active or heading to the gym.
- 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 it a bit sweet tasting
What I would say, though, is that the taste might be a little bit on the sweet side. If that’s not your cup of tea, then maybe go for one of the subtle vanilla flavors. Also, with this amount of calories, I wish it had more protein sources like pea and brown rice protein.
10 - 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.
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 vegan protein from pea, rice, and hemp protein for a full range of amino acids
- 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.
What To Consider When Buying A Dairy-Free Meal Replacement Shake
Although meat and eggs are a good source of protein, they can take too long to digest, causing bloating and other digestive issues for some. It is inarguably something that everyone must not experience as much as possible.
Therefore, opting to buy meal replacement products that can supply as much protein as meat and eggs is an excellent decision to go for. Most dairy-free protein powders source protein from pea, flax seed, brown rice, and hemp protein.
However, you should take note that every consumer must meticulously consider the protein content before purchasing any meal replacement products or protein shakes since it is usually their main ingredient, especially for vegan protein powders.
Meal replacements vary in formulation, making it difficult to choose among your options.
If you have an active lifestyle, say, you are playing sports or hitting the gym regularly, twenty (20) grams of protein for one serving or scoop is all you will need to support your overall body development.
Even so, you can always go for larger quantities of protein, depending on your preference. But remember, too much protein intake may overwork your organs. So, take it as moderately as possible.
When checking the label, you may find no carbohydrates at all as they may already be accounted for the fiber content of the meal replacement of your choice – or if it is indicated, it may not be that much.
Anyone on keto will need to keep an eye on carbohydrates, but many other diets also aim to reduce your carb intake as well.
It is because taking too much carbohydrates will only increase your blood sugar levels to which the body responds by producing more insulin. This signals your cells to store your extra glucose as fat, and this can be unhealthy, especially when you are already over your body mass index (or commonly known as BMI).
If this continues, it will only give rise to diabetes and other health issues. But it is also worth noting that too low carbohydrate intake can also cause temporary health issues such as headaches, bad breath, muscle cramps, and fatigue. Though it can be mostly remedied with readily available medicines.
However, if carbohydrates are taken at the right amount, you will get your daily dose of sufficient energy for your brain, kidneys, and heart muscles to work efficiently.
So, suppose you think you may be already at risk of any of the mentioned issues. In that case, you might want to consider checking the ingredients first for carbohydrates concentration before checking out your cart.
Another macronutrient we have to talk about is fat. So, why should you have to consider the fat content in a meal replacement product or protein shake?
While some people automatically think of fat as a “bad” thing to consume, it is not always the case since there are also “good” or healthy fats that can be obtained from plants such as coconuts.
In general, fats are essential in providing your body energy and supporting cell growth. They also keep your body warm and help absorb nutrients.
However, just like the previously mentioned macronutrients, if you include too much saturated fats in your diet, it can increase “bad” LDL cholesterol in your blood, leading to a higher risk of stroke and heart disease.
As recommended, ensure that your meal replacement shake contains only 10 grams of fat or below. It represents a good solution to that, especially if it comes from a quality source.
Always keep a close eye on the label before you make a decision.
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.
We recommend: Huel Dairy-Free Meal Replacement Shake
How To Use Meal Replacement Shakes For Best Results
I generally advise my clients to use these supplements to replace their breakfast or a morning snack. The additional 10 to 20 grams of protein might help you with weight loss and management  and get you through a time where snacking could bring the worst results.
I’ve also seen athletes use smaller amounts after a workout session. This is mainly done to avoid snacking at a time when it would be better to get your body to burn away some more fat.
Most meal replacement shakes can be safely used as a post-workout protein supplement.
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, meal replacement shakes are good for weight loss as long as they become part of a balanced and low-calorie diet. You should also note that for a healthy weight loss, these are not a replacement for all meals and that you’ll still need to get healthy food into you.
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.
How long can you stay on meal replacement shakes?
You can stay on 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.
Can you replace 2 meals a day with a protein shake?
Yes, you can replace 2 meals a day with 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.
Which Meal Replacement Should You Try?
If you need something that is suitable for replacing more than just a snack, then we would suggest that you try Orgain Organic Powder Meal. It strikes a good balance between providing the right nutrition and supporting your weight loss goals.
With an affordable price tag, it might just be the right choice to make.
Place your order today, and then make sure to contact us on social media with your results.