*Please note the following review was written based on the old (prior to 2012) Vega products, not the re-formulated Vega One products. Therefore nutrition facts and amounts may not accurately reflect the new formulas.
During the fall of 2011, I had the pleasure of experiencing a really wonderful travel experience to Peru, which included lots of hiking. Being physically active for the better part of each day and in a different country for an extended period of time, necessitated that I gave some serious thought to what I was going to eat. When I go on any kind of vacation I uphold my optimal nutrition way of eating. I always share with people that going on a vacation should not be synonymous with abusing our bodies and health, which is what a lot of people for some reason tend to do.
I knew I would not have access to a blender to make any kind of green smoothies or facilities to make proper meals. Snacks would have to be greatly depended on and be convenient to consume and carry with me. I knew I would have some access to local fruit and vegetable markets and possibly some restaurant meal options that would be suitable. However I needed to make sure that the snack options I had met my nutritional standards, needs and convenience for the task at hand. This is where I knew I could depend on Vega. I shared with you in a previous review about the Vega Vibrancy bar and in this review will share about the Vega One Nutritional Shake.
Vega is a line of whole food, plant-based products founded by Canadian Ironman athlete Brendan Brazier. Based on his own health and athletic needs Brendan teamed up with Sequel Naturals to create various Vega whole food products. Vega products are committed to meeting superior nutritional profiles, with synergistically working ingredients. As Brendan states “Vega was born of the belief that one should not have to compromise between whole food goodness and fast food convenience.” Today the Vega line of products includes various shakes and bars.
The name Vega comes from vegan, as Brendan himself is a vegan athlete, and so part of his mission was to provide optimally healthy food products that are also specifically vegan, or made 100% from plant ingredients.
The Vega One Nutritional Shake is considered a meal replacement or nutritional supplement. It comes in powdered format to be made into a shake, and the first product launched in the Vega line in the first half of the last decade. It comes in 4 flavors: Natural, Berry, Chocolate and Vanilla Chai. To date I had the pleasure of trying the first three.
I remember buying my first jar of Vega, about 3 years ago. I had just learned about Brendan Brazier and his work, including the Vega products. As a starting out vegan, I was drawn to trying the Vega shake whose qualities sounded nutritionally amazing! It may surprise you however that to date I have only bought 2 of the large Vega shake tubs. Why is that? Well, while I have found the product to be nutritionally superior, I also realized that I did not want it, or need it in my everyday diet. We have to consider that the main reason Vega was formulated was to offer a convenient, plant-based and whole food option for athletes who need frequent easy to digest fuel, as well as for people on the go. Therefore I decided to use Vega for just that. While I would not call myself any kind of athlete, like Brendan I realized that when on the go, specifically while traveling, the options for vegans who are interested in eating optimally healthy in our society are small to say the least. Therefore, I have taken advantage of buying the single serving sizes that are easy to take literally anywhere and which offer a complete, plant-based and nutritionally sound option.
Nutritionally, the Vega One Nutritional Shake is an all-in-one, natural, plant-based formula. It includes 100% RDI of vitamins and minerals per serving, which by the way all come from natural sources and in highly absorbable forms. It is rich in protein, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and phytonutrients. It is alkaline-forming, easy to digest and contains no soy, gluten or other allergens. It contains no animal products, artificial sweeteners, sugar or yeast. It is also contains no GMOs, herbicides and pesticides. It even contains valuable superfoods and nutritionally beneficial compounds like Maca, Chlorella, digestive enzymes, pre- and pro-biotics.
Therefore from a nutritionally sounding perspective it is quite impressive. I think the only thing that can be picked on is that it is not specified to be a 100% raw or 100% organic product. Some of the ingredients are specified to be organic and some raw, but the whole product overall isn’t.
In terms of nutritional value, the shakes are excellent. (See images below) They offer healthy fats, and being plant-based are of course cholesterol free. They offer an incredible 26g of protein per serving (69g) and 15g of fiber! The carbohydrates used are of excellent quality as well with about 30% of calories from naturally occurring complex carbohydrates (no maltodextrin) and naturally low glycemic index ingredients sourced from hemp, flax, brown rice and maca.
In terms of ingredients, they are quite impressive. The active ingredients such as the vitamins, minerals, superfoods, enzymes and probiotics all come from high quality, natural sources. They are I guess as pure as a product like this can get. Each of the shakes also has 3 non-medicinal ingredients. These include a natural flavor, xanthan gum and stevia extract. Although they can be picked on if you start looking at their root source compositions, why I would not be called to pick on them with this product is because I tend to trust the quality of Vega. Xanthan gum for example can come from GMO sources, but with Vega being GMO-free, that helps clear that up. Likewise a natural flavor can come from almost anything today and is by far not as good as it sounds. But again because I trust what this product and Vega is all about, I am giving them the benefit of the doubt that it is from optimal sources. I cannot do that however for most other companies, unless I look in deeper to the source of these ingredients.
In terms of texture, the product comes in powder form meant to be mixed with water or into a smoothie. When mixed with water, the powder does mix quite well, although there is still a distinct powdery feel to the mixture – not flour-like powdery, but gently gritty. When mixed into a fruit and/or vegetable smoothie and depending on the amount used, the powder texture is barely noticeable. I did not have a preference either way and enjoyed the product immensely each time. My husband on the other hand who like me eats a 100% whole, natural and plant diet did not enjoy the powdery texture at all. While again it is not a big deal compared to some other powdered shakes, the level to which one will be comfortable with the product’s texture will be a matter of personal preference.
In terms of taste, to my surprise I found the 3 shake flavors I tried (natural, berry and chocolate) to be really delicious. In fact, there was something about each flavor that I found irresistible – yes that good! I know that there are many products on the market out there like this and so often the taste and texture isn’t very palatable for optimally healthy products. This one is a winner all around for me. However, here again to give you another perspective I cannot say the same for my husband. As part of a smoothie, he consumed the product, not loving or hating it. But with water only, he was only somewhat open to the berry flavor, reluctant to touch the chocolate and completely rejecting of the original. So again, as with texture, the flavor will be a very personal choice.
The original one has a very hard to describe taste. The inclusion of vanilla flavor in the ingredients kind of sounds right, but there is a richer and more distinct taste to it. Either way I found it really, really yummy. It was good with water and in smoothies.
Non-Medicinal Ingredients: Natural vanilla flavor, xanthan gum and stevia leaf extract
The chocolate one, as expected has a chocolate or cacao like flavor. I found it very nice and pleasant either with water alone or in a smoothie.
Non-Medicinal Ingredients: Natural chocolate flavor, xanthan gum and stevia leaf extract
The berry one I think is the most aromatic and has a strong smell and taste that resembles strawberries, and then some. While it is quite delicious, I did find it a bit too sweet for my liking. While the others stand well on their own or in a smoothie, this one particularly I enjoyed more with water only. When added with other fruits it was just too much sweetness.
Non-Medicinal Ingredients: Natural berry flavor, xanthan gum and stevia leaf extract
What I recommend if you are interested in trying this product for the first time is buying about 3 of the single packet serving sizes of each flavor. Try each with water, and with one or two smoothie combinations and see what works for you. This will help you save money as it is not a cheap product to waste, before you commit to a small or large tub of it.
In terms of health benefits, Vega claims to offer benefits like increased stamina and energy, prevent osteoporosis, normalize thyroid function, promote good digestive health, reduce serum cholesterol, support the immune system, promote healthy weight loss and more.
In terms of price, a roughly 1kg tub of Vega can be anywhere from $55 – $75 depending on where it is bought. Each tub has on average 16 servings, which makes each full meal (roughly 65g) serving work out to be $3.43 – $4.69. A single 30g snack pack serving costs anywhere from $2.50 – $3.50.
So in the end, while for me these Vega One Nutritional Shake made for a great all around experience, we cannot miss one big part of the picture. At the end of the day, these are still a form of processed food. Therefore while I respect that they have a place and value, like for athletes or while on vacation, for me personally they have not become part of a daily diet. Could they? Definitely. There is definite value to use these in a snack serving instead of a typical multivitamin, or use these to enhance one’s diet, or whatever one’s personal need may be.
Out of all the powdered whole meal options out there, it is definitely one of the best. And it is good to know that when in need I can feel comfortable to depend on this and know that I am giving my body the nutrients it needs in a high quality form that satisfies my nutritional standards. But for me personally, given my lifestyle and eating habits, I would still pick real food over this product any day.
Ingredients & Nutrition Information
See the Vega website for a full listing of ingredients.
The powdered shakes come in 3 sizes:
- Individual single serving snack packs – 30g – in foil lined paper packets
- Small tub – around 500g – recyclable #2 plastic jar
- Large tub – around 1000g (1kg) – recyclable #2 plastic jar
Price (as of this posting)
- Around $3 per single packet (1/2 serving) at local health food stores
- Around $40 per small tub (7 servings) at local health food stores
- Around $65 per large tub (16 servings) at local health food stores
In Canada, best price normally is from FeelGoodNatural.com (deliver to US and Worldwide)
- $2.49CDN per single packet
- $38.99CDN per small tub (7 servings)
- $58.99CDN per large tub (16 servings)
In the US best price normally is from Amazon.com (free shipping over $25)
- $57.99CDN per large tub (16 servings)
- Various Vega shakes and sizes are available from The Vitamin Shoppe
- Available at some grocery, pharmacy and health food stores across US and Canada
- Available at various online stores (US, Canada & International)
- Excellent natural, whole food ingredients
- Some organic ingredients
- Some raw ingredients
- Alkaline forming
- Nutritionally beneficial ingredients
- Health promoting ingredients
- Vegan & Vegetarian friendly
- Includes Probiotics
- Includes omega-3 fatty acids
- Includes MacaSure
- Includes ChlorEssence
- Includes digestive enzymes
- No refined sugars
- No artificial sweeteners
- No artificial flavors
- No artificial colors
- GMO free
- Pesticide- and Herbicide-free
- Convenient to use
- Easy to use
- Easy to digest
- Great tasting
- Widely and easily available
- Flavors will not be suitable for everyone
- Texture will not be suitable for everyone
- Can be considered a pricey product