What are the best dairy-free meal replacement shakes?

Written by Jack Schrupp and reviewed by Ella McGonagle, M.S. Nutrition

drink wholesome makes the best dairy-free meal replacement shakes. They are additive-free, dairy-free, and made with real foods, not protein isolates – 99% of meal replacements fail to meet at least one of these criteria. This makes them perfect for people with lactose intolerance and sensitive stomachs, as well as for people just looking for nutrition without the processing and added junk. Order samples to see if our meal replacements are right for you. 


easy to digest

“I have a sensitive stomach, so most meal replacement powders leave me with gas, bloating, constipation, and stomach pain, but not this one.” – Shon

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drink wholesome is the best dairy-free meal replacement.

What is dairy-free? 

Why use dairy free meal replacement shakes?

What are the best dairy-free meal replacement shakes?

Why drink wholesome?

What is dairy-free? 

Before I can give you the scoop on the best non dairy meal replacement, I have to define some terminology. Not to be confused with lactose-free, dairy-free means that a food does not contain milk or ingredients derived from milk. This means that whey and casein, two common ingredients in meal replacements, are not dairy-free.

Whey and casein are byproducts of cheese and yogurt production, and although they may have had some lactose removed, they are still milk derivatives. People with dairy-allergies should certainly avoid whey and casein, and people with  lactose intolerance should exercise caution. There is usually no way of knowing how much lactose dairy-based proteins contain.

Why use a non dairy meal replacement shake?

Here are the top 3 reasons why you should choose a dairy-free meal replacement shake:

  1. Dairy is known to cause digestive issues. Over one in three adults suffer from lactose intolerance, meaning they cannot fully digest lactose, the sugar in dairy. As a result, lactose sits in their guts for longer than food should, feeding their hungry gut bacteria. As gut bacteria eat, they release gas, which can cause a number of gastrointestinal (GI) side effects, including bloating, flatulence, stomach pain, and constipation. The latter occurs because gas slows colonic transit – the amount of time it takes food to travel through the colon. 

2. Dairy can cause acne. Dairy indirectly stimulates insulin production, which regulates sebum production. Sebum, an oily, waxy substance produced by your body’s sebaceous glands, can clog your pores and cause pimples. Dairy can also hinder your ability to process blood sugar efficiently, which can cause inflammation in your skin.

  1. Dairy production is not sustainable. The industrial dairy industry has a profound impact on the environment. Dairy cows and their manure produce enormous amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, the poor handling of manure and fertilizers pollute local water resources, and unsustainable dairy farming and feed production can also lead to the loss of ecologically important areas such as prairies, wetlands, and forests.
making meal replacement shake

Some people will tell you that egg white (what we use) does not measure up to dairy-based proteins like whey, but this is simply not true. Whey protein is a highly bioavailable complete protein, but so is egg white protein. In fact, whey and egg white protein have the same bioavailability score, meaning they are equally as easy to absorb and use.

Lots of people also praise whey for being a complete protein, but egg whites are also a complete protein. A complete protein is one that contains all of the amino acids that the body needs, but cannot produce on its own. Not all dietary proteins are complete, so if you get a significant amount of your protein intake comes from one source (like a meal replacement), you want to be sure that it contains a complete protein.

As I see it, whey protein is a waste product of the industrial dairy industry that some clever farmers decided to market as a dietary supplement. It is not good for you, or the planet, so find yourself an alternative.

drinking meal replacement shake

What are the best non dairy meal replacement shakes? 

As long as you are getting a balance of carbs, fats, and protein from real foods, what IS in your meal replacement is not particularly important. In other words, any natural source of fat, carbohydrate, and protein will give your body the nutrients it needs to stay strong and healthy. What is important, on the other hand, is what is NOT in your meal replacement. The best non dairy meal replacement drinks, in addition to being dairy-free, are also free from food additives. Continue reading to learn more.

Why drink wholesome

drink wholesome is additive-free.

One of the reasons why we make the best dairy free meal replacement shake is that we do not use food additives. Food additives, much like lactose if you are lactose intolerant, are hard to digest. Basically, additives look nothing like real food, and your body does not know what to do with them. As a result, they spend extra time in your gut, which, as you just learned, can cause painful side effects. 

Here is a list of the most common food additives in meal replacement powder:

acacia gum, acesulfame potassium, artificial flavors, aspartame, carrageenan, cellulose gum, dextrin, dextrose, erythritol, gellan gum, guar gum, gum arabic, inulin, locust bean gum, “natural” flavors, maltodextrin, rice syrup solids, soy lecithin, silica, sucralose, sunflower lecithin, xanthan gum, xylitol

The real reason to avoid food additives, however, is their potential long-term effects. Consistently eating additives can disrupt regulatory pathways in your intestines, triggering inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and other systemic inflammatory disorders. Food additives, especially artificial sweeteners, can also disturb your gut microbiome – the microorganisms that help you digest food. This can impair your ability to digest and absorb food and cause widespread inflammation.

vanilla meal replacement powder lifestyle image 1
chocolate meal replacement powder lifestyle image 2

the alternative:


*This is the actual ingredient list of one of the best-selling meal replacements in the United States.

drink wholesome is made with real foods.

Another reason why we make the best non dairy meal replacement shake is that we do not use protein concentrates or isolates. Nearly all other meal replacements use one or both of these protein sources, which are essentially foods stripped-down to nothing but the protein. Protein concentrates and isolates “pea protein” or “whey protein” as opposed to “peas” or “whey.”

Making protein concentrates and isolates involves substantial mechanical and chemical processing. In certain instances, chemical agents such as hexane are used in extracting the protein. Consequently, the meal replacement shake you drink bears scant resemblance to real, whole foods.

Your digestive system is tailored to handle minimally-processed or unprocessed real foods, not synthetic or highly-processed alternatives. Consuming anything other than real food can lead to complications, particularly for people with preexisting gastrointestinal conditions. Even though the long-term side effects of regularly consuming processed foods like protein isolates are yet to be fully understood, emerging data hints at their potential to disrupt the delicate balance of the gut microbiome.

Beyond its role in digestion, the gut microbiome assumes shields against harmful pathogens, contributes to immune system education, and influences sundry physiological processes. Upsetting the equilibrium of the gut microbiome has thus been linked to the emergence of several chronic diseases. Given this association, I strongly advise against using meal replacements made with protein concentrates and/or isolates.

chocolate meal replacement powder serving suggestion 1
vanilla meal replacement powder serving suggestion 2

Instead of using protein concentrates or isolates, we make the best dairy-free meal replacement with whole foods like egg whites and almonds. The egg whites go through a simple process of pasteurization and dehydration, while the almonds are just roasted, (pressed to remove some oil), and ground. These minimally-processed ingredients serve as a gut-friendly substitute for protein concentrates and isolates.

In contrast to protein isolates and concentrates, real foods come complete with enzymes and digestive aids that facilitate the digestion process. Furthermore, egg whites are low fiber, low FODMAP, and alkaline, making them exceptionally digestible. Meanwhile, almonds offer prebiotic advantages and contribute to the diversity of the gut microbiome. They also play a role in promoting regular and healthy bowel movements.

In summary, our approach to developing gut-friendly meal replacements centers around the use of minimally-processed, real food ingredients.


easy to digest

“Good flavor and filling. I mostly appreciate how Drink Wholesome has tasty non-dairy options that don’t have bs ingredients.” – Daniel

Read more reviews or take the quiz.

drink wholesome makes the best non dairy meal replacement shakes.


chocolate meal replacement powder

(39) $59.99 - or subscribe and save up to 15%


2 meal replacement powder samples


This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. drink wholesome is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.