Thursday, May 27, 2010

Vega Shake & Go Smoothie Review

The very kind folks over at Vega sent me a sample of their newest product to review.  Now if you've been reading here for any length of time, you'll know that I do not use protein powders or "nutritional" supplements. I am a firm believer that the only healthy nutrition comes from whole plant foods, not from pills or powders. Protein powders are not whole foods, they are heavily processed and refined, and I avoid them.

 I am regularly offered products to try. Most of them are vegan junk foods full of highly processed soy, so I turn them down. I was willing to try the Vega smoothie because it was formulated by vegan ironman Brendan Brazier, who is a proponent of vegan whole foods. I recieved this simply for review, I make no profit from it. And as I've mentioned in the past, I will not recommend products I do not believe in. I do not like to give bad reviews, but I will not compromise my integrity.

The product arrived in beautiful packaging. As usual, the first thing I did was to read the ingredient list-

organic green pea protein, organic coconut palm nectar, flaxseed, hemp protein, organic sprouted brown rice protein, organic green food blend (alfalfa grass, organic kale leaf, organic spinach leaf, organic broccoli sprout, spirulina), natural flavours, xanthan gum, beet powder, digestive enzyme blend, citric acid, malic acid, dairy-free probiotic blend (L. acidophilus, B. bifidum).

I was happy to see this contained no soy.
I was immediately unhappy about the pea protein, the hemp protein, and the rice protein, as well as the natural flavors. Ground dried peas would have been great. Pea protein is not a whole food. And I discussed how unnatural  "natural flavors" really are  in this post
Since I had agreed to try this, I went ahead and mixed up a glass for myself along with one for my son. Per package directions, I added 2 tablespoons to 1 c. of cold water. Very simple.

I was pleased to see that this contained no artificial colors. But it didn't mix well in the water and by the time I carried it to the table, it had all settled to the bottom of the glass. If you use this, it would be best to mix it in a drink bottle that you can shake to keep remixing it, or else guzzle it down as soon as you make it.

The smoothie mix comes in a variety of flavors- tropical fruit, chocolate, vanilla and berry. I was given the berry to review.  Neither myself or my son cared for the flavor. It was reminiscent of berries, but quite odd, and the texture was just too thin to be considered a smoothie. It was really just a glass of water with some protein powder mixed in it.

Overall, I am sorry, but I must say I could never recommend this product. It is touted as a whole food product when clearly it is not one. I will stick to my real whole food smoothies, like these kale smoothies and these beet smoothies.


VivaciousVegan May 27, 2010 at 10:18 AM  

Well it looked very scary, and didn't sound appealing. I am sorry that it wasn't good. But, you got to try something new and that is always exciting!!!

Claudia May 27, 2010 at 10:23 AM  

Interesting post, Janet. The benefits of making your own - is you know everything that goes into it!

Vegan Epicurean May 27, 2010 at 10:33 AM  


I get offers of products to review almost every day. You are right they are junk food 99% of the time. I have not tried the Vega products but hoped they were better. Sorry they didn't work out. They were the only ones that I thought might be okay.

talk to you later,

janet May 27, 2010 at 10:36 AM  

Brandi, lol, powders masquerading as foods always look scary to me.

Claudia, you're right, I like to make my own and know exactly what is in it!

janet May 27, 2010 at 10:42 AM  

Alicia, I was also hoping the Vega products would be better. People are looking for convenience, but I won't sacrifice real food to get it.

Fayinagirl (means Free One) May 27, 2010 at 1:02 PM  

That's too bad. Vega seemed promising, but I've looked at Vega products and they are expensive too. So glad you did this review. Thanks, Janet!

janet May 27, 2010 at 2:15 PM  

JulieLynn, they are pricey, and just not for me.

Anonymous,  July 19, 2010 at 2:02 PM  

Vega products are actually pretty good products overall. Especially their meal replacement. Vega does send the message to ignore whole foods - they make these items as a better option to turn to if you do not make time to prepare all your meals. This is the number one problem with our food supply is the lack of attention to food primarily due to our incresingly high paced society, and Brendan is just trying to give us something better than the junk that you referenced. As far as the settling in the glass and flavor, the these issues are ones that come with making higher quality supplements of this type. To solve this you must turn the product into the same old junk you referenced in your review. Of course it is not going to taste exactly like a fresh smoothie made from scratch, it isn't one! However I have tried the Berry and Chocolate and for what you are drinking I think they taste quite good. Your review is totally unbalanced because you are comparing a supplement to food. there is no comparison. If you were being balanced and fair to the product you would compare it to other like it on the market. If you did you would see how clean and good the quality is (i mean really - free of dairy, soy, egg, wheat, gluten, corn!). And by the way, in case you did not know, the overall protein blend in the product IS a complete protein matrix. All of their products are. By no means am I suggesting that these products are as food as food - because nothing is better than good whole foods, but in this world of "grab something quick" these products are a pretty darn good option and should be acknowledged as so.

Anonymous,  August 22, 2010 at 9:29 PM  

I love the Vega shake before my morning work-out . It provides me with energy and I feel like a million dollars. I also make my own smoothies with Kale , chard , spinach and parsley later in the day . I need the protein as I lift weights and I want to stay away from Whey . I haven't tried the shake and go Smoothie mix but I really love the Vega and I can testify that it works ( extremley well ) for me.

janet September 2, 2010 at 7:32 AM  

Anonymous 1 , the smoothie is not marketed as a supplement, it is marketed as a whole food, which it certainly isn't. As far as being a pretty good option for something that you can grab quick, a better choice would be a handfull of nuts and a piece of fresh fruit. Even though I disagree with you, I appreciate your comment.

janet September 2, 2010 at 7:34 AM  

Anonymous 2, I am glad they work for you, but I would much prefer your homemade smoothies with kale, chard and spinach- yum!

Robert,  January 4, 2011 at 9:42 PM  

I take Vega Whole Food Health Optimiser, The Vega Smoothie Infusion and Vega Sport both pre and post workout and love them. Sure they dont taste as good as whey protein but I believe are better for me in my gym routine. I love the Smoothie Infusion, never tried the shake and go though as Im really not a shake and go guy except for my Vega Sport in a shaker cup that I drink during my workout with BCAA sup mixed in with it :)

Anonymous,  February 11, 2011 at 8:11 AM  

I am vegan, an athlete and an advocate of eating a whole food, plant based diet. The work of T. Colin Campbell changed my life. Naturally, when I read that Campbell endorsed Brendan Brazier's Thrive diet book, I began paying attention to Brazier. My overall problem with Vega products is that they are marketed as "whole foods". They are most certainly NOT whole foods. Obviously they are better than traditional protein powders and athletic concoctions, but to call them whole foods is a disservice to the cause.

A whole food for example is eating spinach in the actual "spinach form".

janet February 12, 2011 at 7:07 AM  

Anonymous, I couldn't agree more! Nothing beats real food in it's original form.

Anonymous,  June 28, 2011 at 9:47 PM  

Great review. Educational, honest and highlights the pros/cons.

Anonymous,  May 28, 2012 at 4:00 PM  

Sorry but I must disagree with this post, yes real food is always better but we live in a society were finding fresh food without all the additives is difficult if not often impossible. Vega products are made to be natural and free of all the extra "junk". I have been taking Vega whole food or now known as Vega one now for over a year now and honestly I couldn't survive without it. I agree that yes a majority of products out their claiming to be whole foods and nutritious are bogus and yes anything with soy is also terrible for you but Vega has made a good product here. Yes they taste awful but that just means it's good for you! Hahaha In a society were REAL food is hard to find I am so glad that I have my Vega!

Janet May 29, 2012 at 9:22 AM  

Anonymous, thanks for taking the time to comment. Finding whole foods is not difficult at all, every market in the country sells at least some of the following: fruits and/or veggies- either fresh or frozen, legumes, nuts, oats, brown rice, etc. People simply choose convenience over whole foods, and whole foods actually taste good. It's a myth that "if it tastes awful that means it's good for you."

My biggest problem with this product was that it was marketed to me as a whole food, when in fact it is not,it is a processed supplement; akin to protein powders, which are completely unnecessary.
Check this link out, a whole foods vegan who is amazingly fit, without protein powders:

Anonymous,  May 31, 2012 at 12:40 PM  

I really appreciate your review. I tried one of these smoothies, and because I liked it, I decided to go online and look for valuable reviews. Most of these fast products only have celebrity endorsements and it's impossible to find any real medical information about the pros and cons. I didn't find any true medical reviews of this product, but I think you summed it up nicely. It's not a whole food. But I agree with some of the other reviewers...if you must grab something in a hurry, this is a little more healthy than many of the products out there and it's not packed with soy. It's easy to drop in my purse (and yes, I agree, so are nuts and such), but it's a nice treat with some nutritional value for someone who can't have gluten or dairy when I get stuck unexpectedly on a 15 hour shift with no access to food preparation or cold storage facilities. I shake it in a little plastic container and drink it immediately.
Love your site - keep it up!

Beckie House April 21, 2013 at 8:42 PM  

I do the Vega Product everyday I do it with 100% Juice and feel like priceless happy and full of energy. My co-workers are tried and not stimulated at all. They think I'm crazy for being so happy and alive. I mix it in a water bottle with juice and ice. I have lost 12 pound along with exercise I love it!!!

Cindy Garvin March 27, 2014 at 10:43 PM  

My experience with Vega protein has NOT been a positive one. It took me several times of using it to figure out that it was making me very sick. Headache, vomitting, passing out...... yes, even one trip to the emergency ward via ambulance. I was very sad about this as I love Brendan's Thrive book and use his recipes all the time. But you can rest assured I will not be touching this one again.

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