A lady from the Vega company wrote to me and asked if I'd like to participate in a breakfast challenge the company was using for promotion* of their vegan protein/meal replacement type powders which they call Whole Food Health Optimizers (so Star Treky!) Since I actually use Vega products, and felt kind of excited to get some for free in the mail, I said yes. In a few days I had sample packs of a bunch of Vega products on my doorstep when I arrived home from work.
The idea behind the promotion was that people such as myself would use the special online Breakfast Challenge Calculator to determine how their usual breakfast measured up to a Vega shake breakfast. I've used these kinds of food calculators before (I have an app on my phone called Daily Burn that I use once in a while to keep track of my eating and exercise habits) and they really work better if you're entering in a) very conventional food choices, and/or b) name of popular prepared food products. Which is ironic, since much of the point of using food calculators seemed to be to make yourself eat healthier foods, which are usually not prepackaged products. The Vega calculator only allows for five items to be entered anyway, so your options are limited from the start, if you're eating complicated breakfasts. The other small problem with the Vega calculator is that it doesn't give you a wide variety of measurements to enter. If you wanted to enter a 1/2 cup instead of a cup, for example, you wouldn't be able to. Regardless, I pressed on!
I don't eat the same breakfast daily, but I decided to enter the ingredients of a standard, whole food, green smoothie, since that's something I have fairly often. And lately I've been getting up early, so I've been having a smoothie first thing in the morning and then a homemade oatmeal muffin or some toast when I arrive at work. I just entered the smoothie on the calculator, though.
Some of the results surprised me, like the massive discrepancy in both iron and calcium. But, as you can see from the picture of my calculator results, the Vega breakfast option scores higher in all the nutritious type categories and lower in things like sodium and sugar. This was pretty much the result I was expecting, since protein powders exist for a reason.
I actually use Vega powders in my smoothies on a fairly regular basis. My favourite of all the Vega products, in case you were wondering, is the cringely named "Vanilla Almondilla" smoothie powder. It's not in the same product line as the optimizers that Vega sent me, but it is what I usually choose when I buy Vega products of my own volition.
I find that the Vega powders are great additions to my usual whole food smoothie. I do feel full for longer when I add them in with the standard spinach, banana, almond butter, soy milk combo. And they do seem to boost my energy and alertness throughout the day.
One thing I'm never going to do regularly, is drink the powder mixed just with water as the package suggests. I know people who do this and find it delicious, but for me the taste is way to strong. As nutritious as the Vega products are, they are still powders. They aren't going to taste like a banana or like spinach. And that kind of supplementy taste is not my kind of thing all on its own.
So, to sum up! Vega optimizers = lots of vitamins and minerals and healthy fats etc and we vegans need in our diets, but not super tasty on their own (in my opinion). My Regular Breakfast = not quite as many vitamins and minerals, but extra tasty. Combination of Vega optimizers and My Regular Breakfast = Healthy and Delicious Breakfast of Excellence. Once again, everything works out better when we work together instead of duelling.
*Just to clarify, I was not paid to do this post. All I got was the box of free samples and I wasn't told by the Vega company what to write in my post. They just sent the samples and the link to the calculator and left the rest up to me.