raw meal-rating

We’ve gotten quite a few requests for Garden of Life RAW Meal, but we were hesitant to order it. For those of you looking for something organic, vegetarian, vegan, or raw certified this is probably the shake for you! However, none of our staffers are looking for any of those things and when a drink doesn’t even bother to say their shake has a flavor, we get nervous…

Value

7.7

If you shop at an organic food market then you can probably find these shakes on their shelves, maybe for a little bit lower. We picked ours up on Amazon for $37 a tub that contains 14 servings. That’s $2.65 per shake which gets a solid 7.7 in the value category.

Hunger Blockers

9.0

Like we mentioned earlier, none of our staff is used to drinking entirely vegan/organic so these shakes were something we were not used to. They filled us up pretty well, albeit there were some of us with some digestive issues (most likely just because we’re not used to them). In the end we did get hungry later, but not for a couple hours, so it does the job of filling you up mostly.

Nutrition

8.8

Now I think we’re going to get some commenters mad at us because we were not exactly happy with the nutrition on this shake. Organic and vegan is nice, but we’re not going to give any shake that has 26 grams of sugar and 230 calories per serving above a 9. Sugar may be organic, but it’s NOT healthy for you. As we’ll discuss in the next section you’ll probably need to add some fruits to this shake to make it more palatable and that’s going to increase the calories and sugar even higher. Remember you’re trying to replace a meal by limiting the calories the best you can. However, with 34 grams of protein and 100% of many vitamins and minerals they did a pretty good job on nutrition.

Taste

6.9

Have you ever finished mowing your lawn and looked at the grass clippings and thought, ‘Hmmm, I wonder how it would taste if I put these in a blender and drank them!’ No? Yeah…neither have we, but Garden of Life gives you the unique opportunity of trying just that! Now we know why they didn’t even try to name this shake, but we’re good guys so we did the job for you! RAW Meal’s flavor shall henceforth be named ‘Sweet Vegetable Explosion’ around the MRSR offices. It tasted like Shakeology’s green berry, just…sweeter? However Garden of life doesn’t even try to claim that these shakes are going to taste good, which I guess is a win for truth in advertising. I’m sure some of our commenters will have recipes to make this shake drinkable, but to us there was no way we would drink a shake that tastes this horrible for any extended period of time.

About Mrs. R

Mrs. R is the cumulative knowledge of the entire MRSR.com staff. She's got many, many years of fitness and health training under her belt.

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Comments

  1. Maybe we need to look for a level ground to start from when rating these “shake” drinks? RAW Meal gets rated low for price and knocked down on nutrition, when a serving size is clearly two scoops in 16 oz. of water for a total of 230 calories and 34 whopping g’s of protein– is it fair to compare to one serving of slim fast or special k 100 calorie drink? If you compare one scoop of RAW, it has more protein, costs less, and still has more nutrition than the rest. All that being said, the taste reminds me of licking the bottom of a dirty fish tank. I’m working with it and learning ways to like it. The healthy rush is more addictive than any protein shake taste will ever be to me! Would like to see “shakeability” included in the ratings. I hate to buy something that won’t dissolve in water or leaves an inch of sludge at the bottom of my cup. Thanks for the site!

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    • I agree with the taste part, my husband and I used these shakes for about a year. We just could NOT keep going with the taste….sorry! I loved the “freshness” of it, but the rest got the better of me. I want a great vegan option but can’t bring myself to drink this anymore. :(

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  2. Alester says:

    Danielle makes a good point. RAW MEAL is not really comparable to the others in the list as one serving provides approximately double the nutritional content of one serving of the others. It’s important to note, also that RAW MEAL comes in two other flavors (new?): vanilla and chocolate in addition to the original “dirty fish tank” flavor. I use the vanilla. It does have a higher calorie count (310 calories from two scoops), but I halve that using one scoop in each shake (drinking two shakes per day). I like that the product is cholesterol free (if it doesn’t have a mommy it doesn’t have cholesterol :) and relatively low in sodium and sugar. Your review references the regular RAW MEAL having 26 grams of sugar, but the Vanilla RAW MEAL has only 7g of sugar while still packing in 34g of protein (again, I half that to make it comparable to most of the rest and I’m quite happy with only 3.5g of sugar and a respectable 17g of protein in a shake). I’m also happy to report that the vanilla is actually quite good. I took a chance on it after seeing that the sugar was lower than the original RAW MEAL and was relieved when it was actually quite good. The organic/raw/vegan aspect is important to me and I really couldn’t be happier. Also, most health food stores currently have $5 off coupons as a promotion as they introduce a variety of new RAW products and my local store also is giving away sweet BPA free blender bottles. The new flavors are worth checking out and they have single serving packets at the store that you can try as a sample to see if you like the flavor before buying a canister. All that said, even halving the serving to two shakes you ARE paying $50+ for 28 servings. it’s not cheap, but that’s the price you pay for the raw and organic ingredients.

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    • Raw meal is an awesome meal replacement for those on a vegan diet, and much less expensive than the other option- vega one. In fact, the only difference between the two is that vega one has maca root in it. The chocolate, vanilla and vanilla spiced chai flavors are delicious. I usually use one scoop instead of two for an entire meal replacement, and 16 oz of fluid, usually half almond milk half water. if you do the amount that the canister suggests, the shake turns more to a gelatin, filling, however hard to choke down. one scoop instead of two not only cuts the calories, sugar and protein in half, it is still filling. and truthfully, if youre drinking two shakes a day, you don’t NEED that many calories.

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      • I have used the Raw Meal for abut 6 months now and don’t mind the flavors. I really like the new spiced chi. I only use one scoop instead of two and mix in blender with ice and almond milk.
        The reason I chose this one is because it say it is GLUTEN free. Are any of the other shakes you have mentioned Gluten Free?

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  3. I personally don’t mind the taste of the plain RAW Meal or the RAW Protein. I don’t like drinking artificially sweetened meal replacements. Nothing bothers me more than trying to choke down a horribly artificial drink that tastes like it should be from an alien planet. If you have ever regularly taken wheat grass shots, its not that bad. I will admit, when I first started drinking this, I was not used to how it thickens if it sits for a few minutes. But add some more water to it and shake it up and its fine. Plus I don’t mind the extra water. I also wanted to add that I have hypoglycemia and this particular shake doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I drink it about an hour before my insanity workout and It gives me awesome energy.

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  4. Annalea says:

    The sugars in the RAW meal isn’t added–it’s a natural part of the whole foods included. (And I can only really see it could come from the brown rice & fruits.) Not a single one of the ingredients in this shake could, at any level, be considered bad for you. (Well, unless you had a severe coconut allergy.) The flax will also serve to further slow down the absorption of any sugars. I’m hypoglycemic, and this shake is perfect for me.

    The fact that this is a whole-food, organic, live & enzyme rich shake makes it hard to compare to the others that are made of laboratory products. I prefer real food, myself. ;)

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    • I know what you mean Annalea, I like most real food too.

      Just…not this real food.

      I’ve never been a wheat shots or raw food person, and these shakes just…taste…so bad!

      And natural sugar is better than corn syrup solids or most other sweeteners out there…however, the sugar consumption in this country is a bit ridiculous. Personally, I’ve been watching my sugar consumption very carefully lately and to me, the amount of sugar that this takes from my allotment wasn’t worth it. If I am losing that much of my daily sugar allowance, it had better taste delicious.

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  5. Jessica says:

    I happen to like the Vanilla version. But I also made my shakes according to the directions on the back of the Vanilla which calls for almond or soy milk instead of water. And for me one shake last all day I just keep it in the fridge. It is great as a breakfast and late night snack for me since I work a wierd work schedule. And I was able to get one of the shaker bottles free with the purchase of two packets of original and vanilla at my Natural Grocer

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  6. Joan Rene says:

    Just a helpful hint from juicing that I learned when dealing with really nasty tasting green stuff that is good for you-add lemon juice. It really helps alot. If you don’t want to use fresh lemons or keep a bottle of lemon juice in the fridge, they make dried lemon juice crystals (usually in the baking aisle at the grocery store) You can add all or part of the packet. I drink a similar shake every morning and add spinach and sometimes kale to it. I hate kale. So the lemon juice makes it palatable for me.

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  7. I LOVE this stuff! Let me be clear though, it took me a good year to get use to the texture of this shake. Very grainy/sandy like others have described. The actual taste never bothered me, only the texture. The first time I drank this shake I could not keep it down. It came back up and I ended up vomiting in the sink (I was drinking it in the kitchen and could not get the the bathroom in time before it came back up). That has never happened to me before with ANY shake and I have had some NASTY stuff in the past. I think the same thing happened the next day I tried the shake. I then pt it away for a few weeks, before I attempted it again. It went down fine the ext time and ever since. I drink it plain with water. Every once in a while if I have some frozen fruit I will add some to the blender for a change of pace.

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  8. James McNeill says:

    I’ve tried Shakeology (strawberry and chocolate) and found them to be reasonable in taste. I also tried the vanilla version of Garden of Life Raw Meal.

    Interestingly, I think the value on both of these products may be better than you give credit. Try basing your value on a per calorie and nutrient basis (say vitamins or other values that can be quantified). The values of these two products will go up, but not to the level of your #1 and #2 shakes. Shakeology is still at the high end in price, but in terms of nutrients per calorie, it may be a better deal than your score indicates.

    Garden of Life Raw Meal would also probably do much better if values for high quality ingredients and nutrients were calibrated into the equation on a per calorie basis. Agree you’re not going to get the taste score up on this one, though.

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  9. Never add a fresh banana to it! Trust me!!
    Frozen berries are good as is a shot of OJ.

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  10. Whole Foods carries Raw Meal Replacement in Vanilla Chai which is exclusive to WF.
    Since this is the only flavor I have ever tried, I cannot compare to the fish tank flavor of
    the original formula but I mix a shake every morning and find it pleasant enough when
    mixed with (vanilla) Almond milk. If the bottom gets a little thick (not usually a problem),
    a little extra water or Almond milk makes everything as good as new.

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  11. Abraham Sosa says:

    If you guys don’t care about raw and vegan products then it’s obvious you don’t know anything about health and nutrition. I was starting to take your opinion serious until I read this review. And no I have never taken this product but I have read thousands of pages(literally) on raw foods and vegan diets that I know not to put foods in my body that my body will react to them as a foreign object. I changed my diet to an Organic Raw Vegan diet about 2 1/2 months ago and also have been taking a raw vegan shake fron Nature’s Sunshine called “Nature’s Harvest”. I’ve gone down from 155 to 141 since I made that lifestyle modification.

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    • I don’t know where you’re reading “thousands” of pages (literally!) on Veganism to find that it’s the healthiest choice, when studies we’ve read largely show major nutritional deficienciesin the vegan population.

      However, saying we don’t prefer Raw or Vegan doesn’t mean we don’t care about them. We wouldn’t have done several reviews on products that are Raw/Vegan if we didn’t. The approach we take is that we’re trying to help the average American make a healthy choice for them. From the emails we get, the comments we see, and the general observations of the world around us…the average American isn’t on a vegan or raw foods diet and they don’t care to be on one.

      They are people trying to get healthier without feeling like they have to completely change everything about their diet. They’re people who would like to be healthier, but understand that they have vices like burgers or donuts that they want to still eat occasionally. As unfortunate as it may be, every person cannot make their health and diet the center of their universe.

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      • Robin King says:

        Wow…I am stunned at one of the posts I read. Eating a vegan diet can cure you of a multitude of ailments. I don’t know many people who don’t enjoy burgers and such, but I know many people who would like to rid themselves of obesity and the illnesses that go along with eating meats, dairy products, and empty carbohydrates. Eating ANY amounts of these foods stimulates an “opiate response” in most folk. These foods are “trigger foods” and will set one up for eating nutritionally bankrupt foods. Just as an alcoholic can’t drink a little alcohol or a heroin addict can;t shoot up a little heroin, it is not wise to eat a little of the foods that make us sick and cause food addictions. I am a 54 year old administrator in education and my diet is not the center of my world…but my health is! I love the Garden of Life meal replacement shakes. I use almond milk/water and add cocoa powder to the vanilla. The texture can be tricky but I use a blender and drink immediately. It keeps me full and the taste is good.

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        • Wow, really? Comments like this might be why vegans are considered a bit snooty.

          “You ate a hamburger?! FOOD ADDICT!”

          Health isn’t black and white. Vegans aren’t always healthier than those omnivores.

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  12. Corinna Thomas says:

    I was looking for a protein drink that would work as a snack or meal replacement for work and as I am diabetic, most things I try just did not stick with me long. I was talked into trying this and I am so glad I did. I bought the vanilla flavor and I only use one scoop. This does not make my sugar high, keeps me full for about 3 hours, is low in calories and carbs, high in protein and fiber and I can tell a difference since I have been out of it. I started out using regualr 2% milk then switched to almond milk for calorie and carb savings. I have also used coconut milk. I have two daughters ages 15 and 7 and they both like to drink it also and that should say a lot about this product. It does have a consistency that takes getting used to but now the other protien shakes that I have tried just don’t satisfy like this one does.

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  13. Mrs. R you crack me up! your last comments describe us. I would love to try vegan but most of the book or cookbooks I could find are just too time consuming or expensive. I work 2rd shift, have 2 girls, bulldog, mutt, cat, & a foster bulldog (I feed my animals raw diet). As much as I would love to eat a strick raw diet myself its just not posssible time wise or financially.

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  14. I’ve read these reviews and I think a distinction has to be made between Garden of Living’s Raw Protein and Raw Meal productions. I think some of the reviewers here are referring to the Raw Protein when what the site is reviewing is the Raw Meal Replacement I had first tried the Raw Protein and I have sampled the vanilla, chocolate, and vanilla chai flavors. The taste of all of them is at least acceptable but the vanilla chai is by far the best. I decided to try the Raw Meal product be cause the nutritional value seemed better. The taste was like “grass clippings” as described but the product filled me up for quite awhile even though it was hard to swallow. I don’t want to give up on this production yet so I will try the lemon and orange juice suggestions. If I can’t make it work, I will go back to the Raw Protein vanilla chai flavor.

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  15. I have just finished my first tub of Raw Meal. I first bought chocolate on a whim. Big mistake…I returned it and got the unflavored instead. This drink has a “green” taste and the chocolate was horrid on top of the green. To the unflavored, I add a half banana and substitute 4oz of the water with orange juice….add some ice and blend. If you use a shaker and not a blender, it is gelatinous. Some people might have a hard time getting it down that way. Blended with ice, OJ and banana and its something I look forward to drinking. I didn’t get it to lose weight…just needed a convenient nutritious meal replacement once a day. Some days I make half the recipe if I’m not using it after a workout. A full recipe with the OJ and banana is almost 500 calories. Anyway, the important part is that I feel great after drinking. Good energy that seems to last. And it seems I’ve lost some cravings. And with the fiber this drink contains, your digestive track will be very…hmm, word I’m looking for…clean. I just ordered 2 more tubs from Amazon and the price will be $2/serving before adding fruit.

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  16. Cynthia Booker says:

    I LOVE THESE PRODUCTS! I am a vegetarian and buy 90% or more organic product only. I am a disabled person and have hypoglycemia. I am one of those people that applied for my disability and was accepted 3 months later. Disability makes a person wait for 2 years before they offer any insurance to the person and medicaid was offered if I paid the first $750. a month. So, I became an untreated disabled person. I decided to go a different route. I love these shakes. I mix extra protein using the company’s raw protein and use these as my breakfast. I am now taking an extra supplement and I have been going at it for a couple of months now. I don’t take these for the taste, texture or for any other reason than for the health benefit. I don’t mind the taste at all. I mix them with organic soy milk and find that any flavor is fine. There is no bad after taste or anything that I find offense. It is a little bland, but not at all bad. And what is the result… I am better than I have been in years. I will always be disabled, but even my friends that I haven’t seen in years are saying that I am much better and look better. I am 56 and I literally look like I am in my thirties. I have always looked young, but now I look and feel great!!

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  17. Alan Prill says:

    Perhaps I’m from another planet, but I like the taste of this stuff! I use the cacao flavor and mix with almond milk, cacao nibs, shredded coconut and one frozen banana. I do up the liquid quantity from 16 to 20 oz; otherwise, it can get thick as mortar. Also, shaking just doesn’t get it done. Luckily, I invested in a Blendtec which really improves the shake’s consistency.

    I am quite curious about the overall Glycemic Load of these shakes, which I can’t find listed anywhere.

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    • I’m with you Alan, from the first time I drank this stuff two years ago to today I have loved the taste of this RAW Meal and RAW Protein. It think people get to used to artificial flavors and sweeteners and don’t know how to take something that tastes a little more natural. I love RAW. I’m a big smoothie maker though, so I usually add lots of fruits, lactose free milks, flax seeds, etc and maybe that’s why the taste is ok for me. My husband likes it with just water or milk, but he’s very good at suppressing his taste buds for his healthy. I love this way it make me feel and the way it suppresses my appetite. It’s not like other replacements that make your belly bloat and feel yucky. I couldn’t recommend this stuff more highly. And yes, the Meal does come in flavors. The one I have now is Vanilla. And it is definitely the Meal.

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  18. Mary BEth York says:

    I am a vegan and love this shake. I add OJ, Coconut water, banana, spinach, sprouts, a packet of stevia, almond butter, 1/2 an avocado, and just one scoop of the RAW. It is great and SO GOOD for you. I also add some flax seeds. My 11 year old daughter drinks them too and this is the only way I can get her to eat vegetables. This makes a much thicker shake, and then I split it with my husband. HE likes it too.

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  19. I am on my second jug of the vanilla flavor and have recently tasted the chocolate also. I find them to be very good. It did take me a couple of trys to get past the texture but I started adding a raw or frozen banana and that improved it a great deal. I also like to add a Tbs of PB2 in regular or chocolate. I use unsweetened vanilla almond milk and only one scoop blended in a ninja with 4 ice cubes. I have also added along with the almond milk, 1/2 cup unfiltered apple juice or 1/2 cup pineapple with this to give a fruity flavor. Everyone has an opinion on how something should taste and whether it is a good value so I take all of those comments with a grain of salt. I just say don’t knock it personally until you have tried it and if you don’t like it just move on to something else.

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  20. I bought this for the nutrition, not the taste. If I was going for taste I would have gone to Jack In The Box and ordered a shake there, that’s why the 5 stars. While we’re on the topic of the taste, it is not pleasurable but it’s not intolerable either. I added some powdered cinnamon to it and it dominated the taste. I really like cinnamon so I’m good to go with this stuff!

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  21. I’m a mostly-vegetarian (you’ll pry my cheese and yogurt out of my cold, dead hands) who was looking for a convenient way to get more greens in my diet and reduce between-meal hunger. I tried this first in the chocolate and it is pretty vile, but I got through the tub. Now trying the original and what strikes me most, after the strong, bitter tase of the chocolate, is the lack of flavor in the original. I prefer it mixed with V8 and a hit of lemon instead of a sweet juice or almond milk.

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  22. The key to making this go down is lots of liquid, one scoop instead of two, and a blender. A blender bottle simply will not do. It’s so good for you and it’s 100% natural. I drink this every morning for breakfast and what a difference it makes in appetite suppression and cravings. I mix it with almond milk, coconut milk, frozen berries, half a banana (it’s fine with bananas), flax oil, almonds butter, fresh OJ, plain water, honey. I always use a cup of ice. You name it I’ve tried it and I love it all. This morning I did a tropical thing with bananas and OJ. It was yummy.

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  23. I think you should review the Vanilla flavor. It’s kind of unfair that you reviewed the “unflavored” version. Of course it tastes gross. I will be honest, the first time I tried Raw Meal I had the Chocolate flavor and it literally tasted like chocolate dirt. But I had bought the tub so I finished it out and by the end I was craving these shakes. The Vanilla is way better than the Chocolate (and I am kind of a Chocolate girl). The trick is to always drink it COLD. Blend it with ice! One scoop to 8-12 oz of liquid (not the 2 scoops recommended). My favorite recipe is 1 cup of almond milk, 1/2 cup frozen berries or cherries, one scoop of Vanilla Raw Meal and some ice cubes. Yum. Or mix it with chocolate almond milk and it is delicious (but that is the almond milk not the Raw Meal that makes it taste so good). My point is, I think to give this shake a fair chance you need to review one of the “flavors” rather than the dirt flavor. I think you would rate it much higher.

    Note: I am not a vegetarian, nor do I seek out organic products. But I do prefer my foods to be more natural with ingredients I can pronounce rather than lab produced stuff.

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  24. Kelly G says:

    I add 1 tsp of Hershey’s bittersweet chocolate powder and ice cube to my RAW smoothie. It helps the bland taste with fewer added calories and sugar. I’ll add 1/2 ripe banana if I have it. I don’t mind it.

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  25. Ok, so some of the comments really made me laugh. I never likened the taste of the unflavored version to licking a dirty fishtank, but that’s pretty darned close. The first couple times I tried the stuff I stood at the kitchen sink trying hard not to not puke it back up…proof that a human body can get used to just about anything.

    The initial reason I tried this was because my digestive system was functioning about as well as a single toilet at a summer camp after a bout of food poisoning. The stuff works great to get things moving. That being said, it is ultimately the same as pooping out a scoop of sand…the texture doesn’t change much on the trip out.

    I have found that 20oz of fluid is ideal. The thinner the better. And no add-ins. If I wanted a fruit smoothie I certainly would not use this as a base. And it’s helpful to add a really tart ingredient…I use 100% cranberry or sour cherry juice. Sure the calories are more, but my body uses the calories much more efficiently than those in a cheeseburger.

    Of all the flavors; plain, chocolate, vanilla and chai – I found the chocolate to be vilest of all. I like (and I use the term loosely) the plain and chai versions best. All in all, I’d say the stuff does what it’s supposed to do. It provides nutrition. It replaces a traditional meal. And it helps my body function more optimally. I’d give it an A-9.7 for performance/C-8 for taste/and B-9 for value.

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  26. Shannon says:

    I love Raw Meal. I’ve enjoyed the chocolate more than the vanilla. Started drinking 1 scoop with water for breakfast and a couple of scoops for lunch if I can’t grab a solid meal. I’ve lost 9 pounds since I’ve been consuming Raw Meal. I don’t mind the taste – I vigorously shake with water in a mason jar – fills me up and gives me energy. -sb.

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