Updated in 2018! We continuously update this post on dairy-free meal replacement shakes and substitutes for Ensure. Please do comment if you have a favorite or a new one to recommend.
A: Alisa Fleming – Ensure is a unique since it has quite a few sugars and processed ingredients. I don’t know of any dairy-free meal replacement shakes that attempt a similar recipe. But there are several fantastic dairy-free and vegan nutritional beverage options, which I address below. To give you an idea of what you are trying to replace, this is the ingredient list for Ensure:
Ensure Ingredients (Original, Vanilla Flavor) – Water, Corn Maltodextrin, Sugar, Milk Protein Concentrate, Soy Oil, Soy Protein Isolate, Sucromalt, Canola Oil. Less than 0.5% of the Following: Corn Oil, Magnesium Phosphate, Potassium Citrate, Cellulose Gel, Natural & Artificial Flavor, Salt, Calcium Phosphate, Sodium Citrate, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Ascorbic Acid, Cellulose Gum, Monoglycerides, Soy Lecithin, Carrageenan, Potassium Hydroxide, Liquid Sucralose, Ferrous Sulfate, dl-Alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate, Acesulfame Potassium, Zinc Sulfate, Niacinamide, Manganese Sulfate, Calcium Pantothenate, Cupric Sulfate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Thiamine Chloride Hydrochloride, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Folic Acid, Chromium Chloride, Biotin, Sodium Molybdate, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Selenate, Phylloquinone, Vitamin D3, and Cyanocobalamin.
As you can see, it is basically corn, sugar, milk and soy protein concentrates, oil, preservatives, and a multivitamin. Healthy proteins and fats added to your diet may suit your needs better, whether via solids or liquids. Nonetheless, there are several dairy-free meal replacement shakes and nutrient-dense drink options (most with far more virtuous ingredients than this!) that I can share with you today.
Ready-to-Drink Dairy-Free Meal Replacement Shakes
AdvantEDGE Carb Control Protein Shake (Select Flavors) – There isn’t any obvious dairy in these shakes, which are soy and pea protein-based, but several flavors do have a “contains milk” note. This leads me to believe that the milk is in the Natural & Artificial Flavors. That said, it appears the Cafe Caramel and Chocolate Fudge flavors are made without milk ingredients (at last check).
Bright Beginnings Pediatric Nutritional Drink – This is a soy-based, kid-friendly, heavily fortified option that is a bit more like Pediasure, but without the dairy.
Evolve Protein Shakes – These are on the lighter side, but a great option for high protein, high fiber, modest fat, and relatively low sugar sustenance. They’re also fortified with calcium and have some pre-biotic power. They come in several flavors, all dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan and soy-free. But check on nuts – they all appear to be made without nuts, even the Toasted Almond, but we aren’t sure on the “natural flavors.”
Komplete Ultimate Meal Replacement Shakes – Now available in both regular and Kids Komplete varieties, these beverages from Kate Farms are high in protein (rice and pea proteins), labeled as “hypoallergenic” (made without top allergens), gluten-free, vegan, packed with 21 “superfoods”, and rich in supplemental ingredients. See my Full Review.
Orgain Organic Vegan Nutritional Shakes – Do not confuse the vegan varieties with Orgain’s milk-containing beverages. At last check, the high protein (blend of rice, hemp, flax, and chia proteins) vegan shake packages were highlighted with blue (rather than green). These are packed with fruits, veggies, and supplemental ingredients.
Owyn Plant-Based Protein Shakes – These aren’t as high in vitamins and minerals as many “meal replacement” shakes. But they do boast a high dose of allergy-friendly protein (from pea and pumpkin), and have a decent amount of fiber and plant-based fats with relatively low sugars. See my Full Review.
PlantFusion Complete Plant Protein – Peas, artichokes, sprouted amaranth, and sprouted quinoa infuse this beverage with protein. It’s also fortified with a nice blend of vitamins and minerals.
Soylent Ready-to-Drink Meal – At 400 calories, this is a true meal replacement. It’s dairy-free, gluten-free, and high in both fat and protein. It is soy-based.
Svelte Organic Protein Shakes (Discontinued) – These soy-based, vegan drinks from CalNaturale have just enough protein, fiber, and supplemental nutrition to eek onto the meal replacement shake radar. However, they are much lower in calories, and lower in sugars, too. See my Full Review.
True Solution Allergen Free Nutrition Shakes (Temporarily Discontinued)– These dairy-free meal replacement shakes are vegan, gluten-free, and made without any of the top 8 allergens. They are high in protein (pea protein concentrate), fiber, and supplemental ingredients. See my Full Review.
Vega Protein Nutrition Shakes – Launched not long ago in chocolate and vanilla, these have already had a makeover. They’re high protein, have a small hit of fiber, are low fat, not too high in sugars, and have a good dose of vitamins and minerals. They are gluten-free and made without top allergens. See my Full Review.
Powdered Dairy-Free Meal Replacement Shakes
Ambronite Supermeal – This is another whole food option, but with a shorter, interesting ingredient list. It’s vegan and the meal-sized serving contains 5 servings of veggies and fruits.
Complete Start Breakfast Shakes – This is another whole food meal replacement. We like the Super Greens variety best for packing in more essential vitamins and minerals. But they all have a good dose of protein and fiber with relatively low sugars. See my Full Review.
Essential 10 Meal Replacement – This complete protein blend (organic sprouted brown rice & pea protein) is certified vegan and gluten-free and stocked with 21 vitamins and minerals per serving.
Garden of Life RAW Meal – This is a “whole food”, vegan, gluten-free, soy-free blend that packs in protein (brown rice) and tons of nutrients without a bunch of supplementation. They use sprouted grains, fruits, and vegetables, but also spike it with a probiotic and enzyme combo.
Genisoy Soy Protein Shakes – For you low-carbers out there, this is packed with protein (25 grams per serving), but the label says zero grams of carbs. Consequently, it is much lower in calories than most dairy-free meal replacement shakes.
Gnarly Nutrition Vegan Plant Based Meal Replacement – For a unique twist, this blend is made with pea protein, chia protein, and cranberry protein. It’s also a wee bit heftier than some of these brands.
Herbalife Formula 1 Healthy Meal Allergen-Free – I couldn’t find much information on this line, but it is made without soy, dairy and gluten. It also contains 20 vitamins and minerals, but is lighter on protein than many brands.
Invia Organic Plant-Based Balanced Meal – The protein blend in this one is pea, cranberry, hemp, and sacha inchi. It also contains fermented sprouts, probiotics, and more.
Isagenix IsaLean Dairy-Free Shakes – This is a dense, high protein, high carb, high fiber, low fat and relatively low sugar options packed with pea and hemp protein. One reader says, “filling and tastes so awesome.” Note that Amazon says this product has almond flour, but we’ve heard report that it no longer has almond flour in the formulation.
Keto Feast by Ancient Nutrition – This brand isn’t vegan, but it is dairy free. They use a low sugar, keto blend that includes an interesting array of paleo-style foods. It does contain egg.
Lyfefuel All-in-One Daily Essentials Shake – This powerhouse blend is keto, plant-based, and made without any top allergens. But it does contain pea protein. It’s also stocked with greens, probiotics, and digestive enzymes.
MRM Veggie Meal Replacement – Labeled as soy-free, gluten-free, allergen-free and vegan-friendly, this little known option packs in a very high protein blend of pea, brown rice, black rice and flax seed, along with enzymes, probiotics and no funny business.
Nature’s Food All-In-One Meal – We’ve hit the motherload of protein (primarily from rice) with 34 grams per serving. Yet, it’s relatively low in sugars, high in fiber, and made with mostly organic ingredients. They market it as free of dairy, soy, gluten and pea protein.
Nature’s Way Alive! Ultra-Shake – Packed with pea protein or non-GMO soy protein (they have different lines), this product is boasted as a “whole food energizer”, but note that it’s quite low in calories and thus not a sustainable “meal” option.
Neocate Junior – Like Ensure, this one has very questionable ingredients, but it’s an amino acid-based formula that’s used often in infants and older (particularly for clinical settings) as a meal replacement or supplement – though it isn’t particularly high calorie or high protein.
Now Foods Tru-Food Vegan – This is a whole food meal supplement that isn’t particularly high in calories, but does have notable protein (pea, hemp and flax) and an admired energy ratio, as well as loads of other nutrient goodies. It’s labeled as allergy-friendly, and is free of soy protein, but does contain a very small amount of soy oil.
NutraBlendz Vegan Plant Whole Food Meal – This is another rice and pea protein blend with probiotics and micronutrients from whole foods.
Nutrimeal Free – The global giant USANA focuses mostly on whey, but they offer this one meal replacement option that is made without dairy, gluten or soy, but with a unique protein blend of pea and potato. Don’t let the “free” name fool you though – this may not be a safe option for severe allergies.
Phood 100% Plant-Based Whole Food Meal Shake – Made without gluten or top allergens, this vegan mix has an interesting protein blend – including pea, artichoke, amaranth, quinoa and more. It also contains greens, EFA’s, and probiotics.
Pure Vegan Complete Meal Replacement – This isn’t a brand I’d heard of prior, but it has an impressive amino acid blend with a high protein ratio from rice and pea protein, and is quite low in sugars and relatively low in carbohydrates.
Shakeology Vegan Meal Replacement – Again, they have both milk-based and vegan varities, so don’t confuse the two. At last check, their dairy-free meal replacement shake mixes were in white packaging, rather than black. These are lower calorie than many, but still high in soy-free protein (oat, pea, chia, flax, rice and quinoa blend). See my Full Review.
Sunwarrior Illumin8 – This option from a very popular protein powder company has “The Core 8” nutritional components: protein, good carbs, healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and digestive enzymes. It’s a blend of pea protein, flax, coconut and other healthy goodies. See my Full Post.
True Vitality Plant Protein Shake – Made by Green Foods, this powder is spiked with ample protein (mostly pea, rice and hemp), greens, probiotics, enzymes, fiber, vitamins and minerals. It’s stated to be vegan, soy-free, and gluten-free, but does contain barley grass.
Ultra-Shake Vegan & Paleo Power Shakes – Ultra-Shake originally partenered with BadAss Vegan to make a VeganLife Shake and they also have paleo varieties that appear to be dairy-free and hemp protein dense. But note that they do have flavors made with whey, and though it comes in a bottle, it’s a mix that you “just add water to” right in the bottle.
Vaxxen Labs Leftovers Meal Replacement – Launched in Loaded Sweet Potato, they claim “It’s like throwing a plate of last night’s leftovers into the microwave for a quick and easy breakfast or lunch – only better.” It’s made with pea protein, brown rice protein, and a host of superfoods and supplements.
Vega One All In One Nutritional Shake – Last, but certainly not least (falling victim to alphabetical order!), Vega’s broad, all-vegan, soy-free, gluten-free product range includes this tasty range that is constantly being tweaked to perfection. Loads of protein, probiotics, antioxidants and other goodies in this very popular powder. See my Full Review.
Vegan Smart All-in-One Nutritional Shakes – From Naturade, the makers of a broad range of protein powders, this shake is high in protein (pea, hemp, chia, potato and chlorella), gluten-free and soy-free, and it’s stocked with vitamins, minerals, prebiotics, and digestive enzymes. It’s relatively low calorie.
Yuve Plant-Based All-in-One Nutrition Shakes – Surprise! Another pea protein and brown rice protein blend. But this one is stocked with superfoods like goji berries, maca root, and chia seeds.
Beyond the above dairy-free meal replacement shakes, there are many other brands of superfood mixes and protein powders that can also be used and blended to create your own nutritional beverages, depending on your needs. See our Beverage & Protein Product Reviews for more options.
Product Availability: All of the above dairy-free meal replacement shakes and nutrition beverages can be purchased online, and many in stores in the United States. I’ve directly linked each title to a place for purchase and/or product information. I cannot confirm, which are available in Canada or globally; please feel free to comment with availability notes and let us know if we’ve missed any in your country. Also, please note that this post does not endorse any products specifically, but rather offers a helpful guide to the options.
About Ensure: To note, most Ensure beverages are labeled as “suitable for lactose intolerance” or “lactose-free” and “gluten-free”. But it also states on their website that they are not safe for galactosemia, and they do not seem to actively promote it as a lactose-free product. I’ve read many reports (both online and emailed to me) of lactose intolerant people who are not tolerating Ensure well. If this is the case for you, I would consult your physician. It could merely be any of those “upsetting” ingredients in Ensure (shown above), or you may have another food intolerance or condition that your doctor can assist with.
Allergen Note: Always read the label carefully to decide which options are best for you, and contact the manufacturer directly where severe allergies are a concern. Ingredients and manufacturing processes are subject to change at any time. At the time of our review, the above products were made without milk ingredients, but that does not guarantee their allergen safety for you. If you see a product listed that is no longer available or that is now manufactured with any milk-based ingredients, please contact us.