The 6 Best Protein-Loaded Dairy-Free Shakes
When you skipped lunch to get to boot-camp class and now have to race back to the office without eating, it's good to have a couple of options for refueling on the go. So we taste-tested the best plant-based shakes, each one with about 15 grams or more of plant-based protein and fewer carbs, sugars and artificial flavorings.
Of course, shakes have traditionally had a terrible reputation as being full of sugar, low in fiber and protein, and about as healthy as a candy bar.
The latest crop of vegan protein shakes is a new, healthier generation, made with dairy-free milk such as almond, oat, and coconut. So we went in search of the tastiest, healthiest plant-based shakes that we could find.
These portable shakes come in resealable bottles, and many don’t have to be refrigerated until after opening—so they’re also great to pack for commuting.
One note about MCT oil. Many of these shakes contain it and if you are trying to be keto it can help you get your calories from fat -- not carbs -- because it's a naturally occurring fat from coconut oil. If you're avoiding oils, we suggest you look out for it as something to avoid. And The Beet always encourages you to eat a diet of mostly whole, unprocessed foods, but when you don’t have that option, plant-based protein shakes can help tide you over until your next healthy meal.
Protein Shakes Taste-Tested
During a taste test, we were pleasantly surprised at how full these protein shakes kept us feeling. Consuming one with a light lunch kept us satiated until dinner, and the coffee-flavored varieties easily took the place of a morning latte (with more nutrition, to boot).
While serving protein shakes chilled is recommended, you can experiment with how you consume these, too. For example, try pouring a vanilla shake over your cereal in lieu of your normal milk, or drink a chocolate shake hot (heating gently in the microwave) for a sweet post-dinner treat that tastes like—you guessed it—hot chocolate.
Here are the five best vegan protein shakes we tried.
Known for its protein bars and protein powder, Aloha recently added plant-based protein drinks to its lineup. Made with a blend of pea and brown rice protein, coconut milk and MCT oil, these are free of any artificial ingredients and only contain 5 grams of sugar. The angled top on the cardboard container is slightly awkward to drink from, but the silky shake makes up for it. We like the vanilla flavor best, beating out chocolate sea salt (we missed the salt here) and coconut.
At first, this bottle was slightly annoying to open, as it not only has a plastic seal but a foil seal covering the top that was tricky to remove. However, both the Cold Brew Coffee (perfect for a morning commute) and vanilla flavors were delicious enough to make up for it. We loved how this drink is free of the top eight allergens, stevia, and sugar alcohols; is high in fiber; and that it comes in more outside-the-box flavors like Cookies N Cream and Turmeric Golden.
Three cheers to Oath for incorporating oat milk in vegan protein shakes. The creative flavors of this organic drink enticed us to want to try them all. While we didn’t love Matcha Chai, the others—including Golden Turmeric, Indian Rose and Double Chocolate—made for smooth sipping. With 210-260 calories apiece, these are heartier than some other shakes, thanks to the addition of both almond and pumpkin seed protein (and MCT oil in the Turmeric variety).
A protein drink called Soylent Complete Protein is the latest product from this company, known for its meal-replacement products. More than just a protein shake, Soylent includes nootropics said to boost energy and focus. This bottle, like OWYN, features the pesky double seal, but the reward is inside: The chocolate drink is velvety and luscious (you could have fooled us that this was actually chocolate milk), and it’s packed with vitamins and minerals, including 100% of the daily recommendation for vitamins B6 and B12.
Ripple is making waves—this was our hands-down favorite of all the plant-based protein shakes we tried. Creamy and almost milkshake-like in texture when chilled, the Salted Caramel variety is divine and a solid stand-in for a sweet snack or dessert any day. Vanilla, coffee, and chocolate also earned high marks, with the only downside being the high sodium content in these shakes.
Happy Viking was launched by Venus Williams when she couldn’t find a workout recovery drink that she liked enough to make it a regular ritual. With plant-based protein and a rich chocolaty taste, HV satisfies every craving while delivering a blend of clean, pea and brown rice protein along with nutrients like potassium and iron to your body. While we can’t all hit a forehand like Wiliams, now we can replenish our muscles after a workout the way she does. Keep these at your desk or bring one in your bag for those moments when you want chocolate but also something healthy.