I waited to review this product until I had given a thorough run through. That being said, 2 days ago I purchased my second containter of the product, and have mixed thoughts on my second tub. When I began my search for a meal replacement, the overall goal was to find a beverage that was nutritional, delicious (without having to mix add-ins), and not high calories/fat. I was not seeking a protein shake to build muscles, or an energy drink. After weighing my options, the final results were between Vega One, Garden of Life, and Shakeology, and so I was off to Whole Foods to purchase some sample packets to determine the flavors of choice. Vega has vanilla chai, chocolate, berry, natural, and now French vanilla (just bought a packet to try). Garden of Life Raw Meal has chocolate, vanilla, and original. Shakeology (not available in stores) has chocolate (reg and vegan) greenberry, and tropical strawberry (reg and vegan). Each has their claims and each has their pros and cons.
Process of Elimination:
Vega- I didn’t have an issue with the Vega at all. It is Vegan, free from dairy, gluten and soy, and contains no added sugar, artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners. The vanilla chai was in my opinion awful. Chocolate was pretty ok with almond milk. I didn’t get to try to natural, and I just bought the french vanilla flavor. Price is a tad spendy, but still doable. Googling for coupons and sales helps alleviate the cost there. It seems like someone always has it on sale. I do love that it has probiotics and doesn’t have the lingering dirt taste of many of the natural plant based protein shakes. In the end I didn’t go with it though because RAW had overall better reviews and I figured why not.
Shakeology- Ok so when people complain about the flavor (I only got to try the chocolate) I have NO idea what they were expecting? Perhaps a chocolate malt from Dairy Queen? The chocolate is not bad at all. Compared to many, it is like desert (especially after my trial run with the Original Raw) If cost was under the 100 bill marker it would definitely be more desireable. The claims on it are fabulous and the taste is there, so I think I will start to alternate just to give my taste buds some sunshine in the morning. The only other complaint I had was that the hunger pains would hit me around 11 and I would be STARVING, whereas with the RAW I could last until around 12-1. I love that this isn’t high calorie either and seems to be natural and not pumped with sugar. It also contains probiotics which is essential to my function. Now that i am writing this, I am starting to contemplate more why I don’t just stick with it. Hmm.
Garden of Life: I love the concept of Raw eating. However I don’t like the prep involved in the meal making, and realistically most of my snacking is Raw because it is just fruits and veggies. Garden of life is raw, vegan, gluten free, organic, dairy, gluten and soy, and contains no added sugar, artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners. It has probiotics, and sprouted everything. There are many people who give this product fabulous reviews. I['m not going to rave about it, but it has more plusses than negatives.
First off, if you are doing a full serving, you are looking at about 400-500 calories per shake. I personally find it too thick and only do half. WARNING. Don't ever let any plant based protein sit for more than 10 minutes because it literally turns into sludge that if you have ANY gag reflux, will be difficult to down. In these shakes I use either unsweetened almond milk, coconut milk, flax milk, or some other non dairy beverage. Not big on soy. Just my take.
Taste on the RAW is, well, earthy to put it nicely. I tried the original for a week, and honestly, it was about the worst thing I have ever consumed, but it was spendy for the samples, so I worked my way through it, hastily chugging the contents immediately to avoid any thickening. Chocolate seems to be the best in my opinion, as the vanilla, just doesn't cover the flavor much. On good days, it is oatmeal-ly tasting with chocolate and hints of grass and vitamins. The days that I would rather eat caramel brioche French toast, it tastes like I made a milkshake from the mulch and dirt dug with my hand trowel from the back yard. So on a scale of one to ten, taste is about a 3.5.
Function: As I mentioned above, the idea and concept of raw, oranganic, sprouted nutrition sounds great. As far as the major claims others have made in regards to this product such as clearing of acne, hormonal balance, regularity, lessened cravings, etc, etc, I have not seen these play out effectively on a personal level after a month of consuming the beverage 90 percent of the time for breakfast. I will say however, that I am only taking half of a serving so that could be why. What I can say is that this product does keep me full until around 12 - 1 which is perfect timing for lunch.
Other notes: Mixability is one of the KEY factors in any meal replacement shake. I have one of the shakers with the metal ball whisk that mixes pretty decently. With that in mind, obviously my blendtech would do the trick in a heartbeat, but unfortunately, it is down in Arizona right now with everything else, while I am visiting Washington. So, in the mean time.... the Shakeology mixes BEAUTIFULLY in the shaker. The Vega doesn't do too bad either. The Raw on the other hand....hmm. I might leave the last little bit on the bottom because it just is a grainy sloppy goop that leaves residual pieces in my mouth that are entirely unappealing. Also, it smells awful when you open up the tub. Not a big deal, but just a funk that if you manage to take a big whiff of, it is offputting, especially when attempting to get others to participate in your new found healthy beverage.
Really, what made me go with RAW over the rest was its natural benefits, the concept, the user reviews,and the price. Sure it's still 35-75 a tub depending on where you purchase, but that still beats the 100-130 for the Shakeology, and realistically, since I only use half a serving per meal...well it breaks down to nearly a sixth of the price. Additionally, I am still in shock that Shakeology could be healthy because it does taste good, and I am still stuck on the misconception that the healthier it tastes, the better it has to be for me.
Ingredients: Organic RAW Sprout Blend (organic sprouted brown rice,
organic sprouted brown rice sweetener [from organic sprouted brown rice]),
organic amaranth sprout, organic quinoa sprout, organic millet sprout, organic
buckwheat sprout, organic garbanzo bean sprout, organic lentil sprout, organic
adzuki bean sprout, organic flax seed sprout, organic sunflower seed sprout,
organic pumpkin seed sprout, organic chia seed sprout, organic sesame seed
sprout), organic RAW flax and coconut blend (organic flax flour, organic coconut
flour), RAW green food and fruit blend (organic oat grass juice, organic
spirulina, high protein chlorella, organic alfalfa grass juice, organic barley
grass juice, organic wheat grass juice, organic strawberry, organic cherry,
organic blackberry, organic blueberry, organic raspberry), RAW enzyme and
probiotic blend (bacillus coagulans, proteases, amylase, lactase, glucoamylase,
alpha-galactosidase, lipase, pectinase, peptidase, bromelain, phytase,
hemicellulase, beta-glucanase, papain, cellulase, xylanase, diastase,
invertase), organic RAW vanilla extract, Brewer’s yeast (saccharomyces
cerevisiae), lactobacillus bulgaricus, natto
Rating: 7.5/10 – Nutritional powerhouse, taste and texture negative
Check out their website for more information at: http://www.gardenoflife.com/