For a long time, all I wanted to do was gain muscle-weight. The only problem was, I didn’t have the know-how to go about doing it! That, in combination with running cross-country in high school, led to me being stuck at 155 lbs. Not matter how much I tried to gain muscle, I always remained slim. This would be a struggle that would last a decade.
That’s when I decided to get educated about proper nutrition to go along with the exercise I was doing for gaining weight. After researching and asking around, I came upon THE product I’ve been using for several years now. Recently, I weighed myself and was amazed! I had gained over 20lbs of muscle and I know that it is, at the very least in part, due to this addition. What is the best vegan protein powder? For me, it is Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal!
The Overview – What, How Much, And Where To Buy
The Product: Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal
Retail Price: $62.99
Where to Buy: Amazon.com (Current price ranges from $29.96-$44.09 for 2lbs – 2lbs 5oz, depending on the flavor you choose)
Amazon Star-Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (8,040 total reviews!)
- 4,551 5-star reviews (57%)
- 1,333 4-star reviews (16%)
- 618 3-star reviews (8%)
- 563 2-star reviews (7%)
- 976 1-star reviews (12%)
Responsibility and Sustainability – Why Garden of Life?
Before getting into the product itself, I thought it would be beneficial to go over why I choose Garden of Life as my go-to protein supplement source. I think when looking at things from a budget-minded perspective, it’s important to weigh that with the quality of the product. There are certain things for which I’m willing to pay a bit more. This is especially true when it comes to nutrition, where often budget-price means budget (read fake) ingredients.
I may pay more now for what I put into my body, but in the long run, I’ll pay less when my health doesn’t suffer because of using low-quality products. Their focus on whole, clean, and traceable foods is hugely influential in my decision to go with, and stick with, them.
Looking at the various certifications the company owns, they read like an all-star list that brings me so much confidence. These include:
- Certified USDA Organic: All ingredients are grown without the use of pesticides or synthetic fertilizers
- Non-GMO Project Verified
- Certified Vegan
- Certified Gluten Free
- Certified NSF Gluten Free
- Certified Star-K Kosher
- Certified U Kosher
- NSF Certified for Sport: Meaning the products contain no traces of over 270 banned substances
- Informedchoice.org Trusted by Sport: Again testing to ensure no banned substances are present
- LEED Gold Status: Ensuring Garden of Life uses green building strategies and practices
- Green-e Energy Certified: Meaning Garden of Life uses renewable energy that meets the standards for environmental and consumer protection
- Certified B-Corp: also ensuring Garden of Life meets the highest social and environmental standards
Additionally, Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal contains no dairy, soy, or artificial flavors. You can choose from 3 options that are sweetened with Stevia or 1 that is sweetened with Organic Cane Sugar.
It’s clear that Garden of Life cares about the safety and quality of the product they are putting out as well as how each is made. So what can you expect to find IN Raw Meal?
Raw Ingredients – Raw Nutrition
In each tub of Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal you will find:
Raw Organic Protein Blend:
Organic Pea Protein, Organic Sprouted Brown Rice Protein, Organic Amaranth (sprout), Organic Buckwheat (sprout), Organic Millet (pearl and sprout), Organic Quinoa (sprout), Organic Chia Seed (sprout) Organic Adzuki Bean (sprout), Organic Flax Seed (sprout), Organic Garbanzo Bean (sprout), Organic Lentil (sprout), Organic Pumpkin Seed (sprout), Organic Sesame Seed (sprout), Organic Sunflower Seed (sprout)
Raw Organic Fiber Blend:
Organic Tapioca Fiber, Organic Chia Seed, Organic Flax Meal
Organic Flavor Blend (depending on the flavor):
Raw Organic Cacao, Organic Chocolate Flavors, Organic Erythritol, Sea Salt, Organic
Stevia Extract (leaf), Organic Vanilla Flavor
Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Vanilla Flavor
Organic Vanilla Flavors, Organic Stevia Extract (leaf), Sea Salt
Vanilla Spiced Chai:
Organic Vanilla Flavors, Organic Chai Flavors, Organic Cinnamon, Organic Stevia Extract (leaf)
Raw Organic Fruit and Vegetalble Blend:
Organic Spinach (leaf), Organic Baobab (fruit), Organic Apple (fruit), Organic Beet (root), Organic Broccoli (stalk and flower), Organic Carrot (root), Organic Tomato (fruit), Organic Green Bell Pepper (fruit), Organic Brussels Sprout (leaf), Organic Ginger (root), Organic Garlic (bulb), Organic Onion (bulb), Organic Strawberry (fruit), Organic Cherry (fruit), Organic Parsley (leaf), Organic Cauliflower (flower and stem), Organic Blackberry (fruit), Organic Cabbage (leaf), Organic Blueberry (fruit), Organic Kale (leaf), Organic Cucumber (gourd), Organic Celery (stalk), Organic Asparagus (flower and stem)
Raw Organic Greens Blend:
Organic Alfalfa Grass Juice, Organic Spirulina, Organic Barley Grass Juice, Organic Oat Grass Juice, Organic Wheat Grass Juice
Raw Probiotic and Enzyme Blend:
Lipase, Protease, Aspergillopepsin, beta-Glucanase, Cellulase, Bromelain, Phytase, Lactase, Papain, Peptidase, Pectinase, Xylanase, Hemicellulase, [Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus bulgaricus] 1.5 Billion CF
Pros And Cons – Are There Any Concerns?
As with any product I review on this site, I want to be completely open and honest about what I find, both good and bad.
Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal is super healthy. It is
- Organic, non-GMO, vegan, gluten free, non-dairy, and non-soy.
- Made of raw, whole foods
- Contains 1.5 billion live probiotics and enzymes
- For those looking to lose weight, it is not a calorie buster
- It contains 20g of clean, plant based protein
- It contains 44 super foods as well as 21 whole food vitamins and minerals and 7g of organic fiber
- It is tasty when combined with other ingredients in a smoothie or in a hot cereal (I use it in my go-to, high protein, breakfast oatmeal!)
- Personally, along with dedicated exercise, it has been a key part of my diet that has helped me build over 20lbs of lean muscle
Here is where you are going to get a complete dose of honesty, as I am an actual user of this product. Each person has their own tastes and preferences and I get that. However, in my general opinion, if you follow the directions, which state you should simply mix 1 level scoop with 8 oz of water or almond milk, you may never trust me again with a review.
I have attempted to do so and it didn’t turn out well. There are reviewers on Amazon that say it tasted like dirt. I don’t doubt that. I personally tried putting a scoop in milk to see. If you don’t drink it immediately, it will turn to sludge…there’s just no way around it.
That considered, you will see why I say it is tasty WHEN COMBINED with other ingredients and it truly is! I would not have talked about it so glowingly for this entire review (heck, I wouldn’t have even written a review) if I didn’t think there were ways to incorporate other flavors and make it delicious and worthwhile.
For those looking to gain weight, I also can’t recommend using it on its own. If you look at the label provided, you will see that it just doesn’t have the calories or fat to make it the sole method of putting on pounds of muscle.
Additionally, depending on your taste, 1 whole scoop may be too much for you as I found to be the case for me. Therefore, when I use it (like when I incorporate it into a smoothie or oatmeal), I measure half a scoop of powder, while adding other ingredients that will boost the calorie, fat, and protein numbers to where I need them to be. I think there is something to be said about the ability to customize your nutrition.
Lastly, this may be too expensive an option for some. At basically $30-$45 a month, this may be too steep a price to pay. It made me hesitate at first, too! However, here are three things that helped put me at ease when deciding to place my full emotional and monetary support behind this product:
- While I may be paying a bit more, I know the product I am getting is clean, healthy, and of amazing quality. I have not found any other powder that gives the sheer amount of nutritional benefit that Garden of Life does. Many budget meal replacements/protein powders contain synthetic, low-quality ingredients to keep the cost down, but at what cost to your health?
- As I stated before, I’d rather pay a little more in the short-term, than pay for it with my health in the long-run (expensive both physically and monetarily).
- While there are 28 full scoop servings in the package, lasting for about a month, I have been able to double how long it lasts by only using half a scoop and adding other quality ingredients. Not only does that help with the taste, but it also helps the impact on my wallet.
- $15 for two months is much more doable for me than $30 for one month.
- Amazon.com usually prices the product well below the retail price and often runs sales. Even better, Amazon runs a “Subscribe and Save” program in which you can schedule an automatic order of any quantity to be delivered once every 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 months!
- This can save you 5% and you can skip or cancel at any time! Amazon will send a reminder before each automatic order is placed.
Now You Decide – Is Garden of Life Right For You?
I hope you have found this review to be thorough, honest, and helpful. I use this product nearly every day and with a few tweaks, I can wholly recommend it without hesitation.
There are so many positive results I have personally experienced with Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal, that they outweigh the negative for me. The good thing is, there are ways I have found to get around the negative aspects. Now, it’s time for you to decide if you are going to get your own!
Let me know your thoughts in the comments! I’d love to hear any questions and/or experience you have with Garden of Life. Have a wonderful day!
If you wish to purchase Garden of Life Raw Meal, please click on one of the varieties below!