Mele is the latest competitor in the hot new vegan meal replacement shake category. These products seem to be coming up more and more frequently as the vegan trend becomes, well, not just a trend anymore.
Even in the last few weeks I’ve reviewed a slew of new vegan, high-protein ‘meal replacement’-style products from Kachava, YourSuper, Unico, Ample, and more. These products all tend to have a combination of vegan protein sources, and then some sort of fat source (usually from nuts, as with this Mele product), and then sometimes some superfoods or greens blend (like Unico’s Gemini). Let’s actually stay here on the topic of ingredients and learn about what is actually in the Mele meal replacement shake product...
What’s in Mele Shake?
Mele uses a combination of proteins, nuts, a fiber source, and some natural flavoring materials to create their unique blend. Here is the full list of ingredients in Mele:
strawberry, banana, organic coconut milk, organic brown rice protein, organic pea protein, peanut, organic dutched cocoa, almond, organic flax seed, and less than 1% xanthan gum (natural thickener).
NOTES: As you can see, this is one of the more simplistic recipes that I’ve seen lately. Weighing in at only 11 ingredients, Mele has a smaller footprint at least in terms of ingredients compared to others like Ample, Huel, or the other big-time meal replacement players, who often fortify with vitamins, minerals, and even more odds and ends.. honestly I don’t mind the simplicity of Mele. I DO wonder if the limited ingredients constitute a real ‘meal’, but, I guess in this day and age.. what is a square ‘meal’ anymore, anyways? Food for thought, if you will..
An important topic when analyzing these meal replacement shakes is what the macro breakdown looks like. We have seen quite a few different styles of product ranging from high-protein + high-fat to high protein + low-fat to high-protein + high-carb AND high-fat...it seems like every meal replacement has their own mentality as to what the optimal macronutrient strategy is. But let’s check out what Mele has done with theirs:
Per Serving (1 Mele Satchet):
Total Fat: 7g
Sat Fat: 2g
Trans Fat: 0g
Total Carbohydrate: 29g
Total Fiber: 7g
Total Sugars: 18g
NOTES: Well. This is certainly an interesting nutritional facts panel. You have 250 calories (which is fairly normal for the meal replacement category), and then Mele has 7g of fat, which is on the low side, all things considered. The interesting parts for me are the carbs, which are rather high at 29 grams. And drilling into that 29 we see 7g of the 29 are fiber - which is great. What’s NOT great are the 18g of sugar that make up most of the carbohydrate content of Mele. I was a little taken aback when I saw this. And then I realized that Mele is basically just using a LOT of dried fruit in these shakes. So much so that the sugars in all three flavors that I tried are near 20g / Serving. I get that Mele is using clean ingredients, but 20g of sugar is a lot. Even if it is naturally occurring sugar, sugar is sugar to the body. And in dried form you aren’t necessarily getting all the fiber benefits of these fruits... so. It’s great that there are 22g of protein in Mele, but I think they need to clean up the sugars.
Overall I will give Mele an 8/10 on the formula because I do love that they use good quality ingredients and nothing artificial, but I think they really have some room for improvement as well to clean up the macros. Let’s talk about the packaging real quick because that is something they do NOT need to change at all.
Mele Packaging is Brilliant.
Mele actually has super cute branding. We see all kinds of different approaches to the branding of these meal replacement products as time goes on, and I think Mele is one of the best we’ve seen. They actually remind me a lot of the Alani Nu brand with their muted colors and their soft, friendly aura about their products.
The name ‘Mele’ is very chic, and their packaging uses cute, hand-drawn graphics to contrast with their super official-looking fonts and logo. Altogether it creates a lovely hybrid brand personality that feels very authentic, very health, and, well, it’s just nice to look at! You feel healthy drinking Mele right off the bat because it’s so pretty. The single-serving sachets are also very convenient for the user. It’s just lovely. Let’s talk about these Mele shake flavors now though...
What is the Best Flavor of Mele Shake?
I have tried three different flavors of Mele, and honestly I’ve been deliberating for a good twenty minutes trying to come up with my final verdict on what the best Mele flavor is. They have three cute flavors:
Super green: This one uses tropical fruit as the base (pineapple, mango, and coconut milk) to give a flavor that is super fresh and delicious. I like that this one has the added carrot and barley grass for some added nutrients, but it was probably my least favorite of the three.
Rawberry: Yep, you read that right (and I didn’t make a typo!) The berry-themed flavor of Mele is called ‘Rawberry’ because it uses raw, natural ingredients, I suppose. This Mele flavor uses strawberry and banana to create yet another sort of ‘tropical-y’ flavor. It was pretty good! I found it to be sweet, but very drinkable. It’s also quite filling, I must say. This was my second favorite Mele shake flavor.
Cocoa-Nut: Cocoa Nut is the best flavor of Mele protein meal replacement shakes. It is actually VERY very tasty. You can detect the subtle banana flavor (since it has banana as the base), but then they also use a really really good, quality cocoa to give it a delicious chocolate-y flavor. I honestly am loving this Mele flavor because it’s bold but not overly sweet (I think the Rawberry is maybe too sweet). I also think Cocoa Nut is just overall a more bold, deep, flavor. The cocoa also masks the vegan protein natural flavors better- so I get much less of a ‘pea’ flavor from this one than the others.
Overall, Mele shakes taste pretty darn good. I mean. As you would expect from something with THIS much sugar in it, but, hey. Taste is everything, and these do taste really quite good. Let’s put all the pieces together now and review what we’ve learned so far about the Mele shakes:
Mele Review Summary
- Mele is an NYC-based protein meal replacement powder company
- Mele comes in plant-based and dairy-based options, in three different flavors each
- The Mele formula is based around dried fruit powders (banana, strawberry, pineapple, etc) and then fortified with the vegan or dairy proteins
- Most shakes contain about 250 calories per serving, and 29 carbs with 22g of protein
- The best flavor of Mele shake is the cocoa-nut, which masks the ‘vegan’ off-notes the most effectively
- Mele texture is thick, and the shakes do keep you full for several hours
- Mele costs roughly $5 / serving, which is on the higher end of the cost spectrum for the competitive meal-replacement category
To conclude, I would say Mele is not quite there yet. For what these products are, I’m not sure $5 is going to get them enough customers in a highly-competitive meal replacement space. From a formulation standpoint, they may encounter some issues with the sugar content as well. But the flavors, branding, and product concept have enough of a running start to make Mele a true power player someday.*