Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The Vega Breakfast Challenge

A few weeks ago, I was invited to take part in the Vega Breakfast Challenge.

First of all, what is Vega? It's a health food line of created by vegan triathlete Brendan Brazier. He writes the Thrive books, aimed at vegan athletes, which I've read and enjoyed. His books contain super healthy recipes - they're almost always vegan, raw, nutrient dense, and created specifically with the athlete in mind. And yet... I've never made any of the actual recipes! I'm wary about raw foods, a dehydrated pizza doesn't sound very appetizing, and I'm comfortable and settled in the way I cook and eat - which is already pretty healthy as is. If it ain't broke...

But when Vega contacted me to try out samples of their Complete Whole Food Health Optimizer, I had to say yes. I received four pouches of Vega mix in four flavors: Berry, Vanilla Chai, Chocolate, and Natural. All the flavors boasted being gluten free, soy free, dairy free and low in calories, as well as containing 100% of your daily vitamins and minerals and 60% of your daily intake of fiber. Not too shabby!

As part of the challenge, I was asked to use a calculator found on the Vega website to compare my usual breakfast to Vega. I'm a creature of habit and I eat the same thing almost every morning - a bowl of cereal with almond or soy milk. Lately, I've been buying a big box of Multi Grain Cheerios at Target, because I'm poor now and it's a damn good deal. 

I plugged my Cheerios + milk into the calculator and here's how it compared to one serving of Vega:

Wow! My breakfast is pretty good, but Vega is the clear winner. Almost three times as much protein, a fraction of the sugar, four times the fiber, tons of Omega-3's, no sodium and it definitely wins on vitamins and minerals (look at all that calcium!). So clearly, Vega wins the nutritional profile round. But let's be honest. It doesn't matter how great something is on paper. If it doesn't taste good, I'm not going to eat it. And cereal and soy milk tastes really, really good.

First, a disclaimer: I am really not a fan of drinks in general, unless we're talking coffee and wine. I subsist on water as a general rule. Thus, I recruited Nathan to help me review Vega, as he would have a less biased opinion. We tried the chocolate and berry flavors first. Flavor-wise, berry was definitely the winner - it had a slight sweetness that was pleasing, while the chocolate was kind of grassy. (Grassy chocolate sounds weird, but that is the best description I can come up with.) I didn't really like the drink - it was a little chalky and I had a hard time dissolving the powder in the water. It was definitely better than other powdered energy drinks I've tried, so I'll give it that much, but overall I was not impressed.

Nathan, on the other hand, had a more favorable opinion. While he agreed that it was a bit chalky, he liked the flavor and didn't seem bothered by the texture. He also noticed a spike in his energy after drinking it, which for Nathan in the morning is saying a lot. Final verdict? "Very healthy and super convenient, but not something I'd drink every day."

So while Vega clearly beats my cereal and soymilk combo, it doesn't win on taste. I'd like to keep a few packets around for days when I'm rushed or on the road, as it's an easy way to get a quick and nutritious meal, but that's about the extent of it.

Thanks to Vega for the samples and the chance to try out their products. If you're interested, you can become a fan of Vega on Facebook and follow them on Twitter for deals and coupons. Happy breakfasting!