Sakara Life is a plant-based vegan and gluten-free meal delivery service that celebs have been raving about. I discovered Sakara Life when I was searching for meal delivery options online. I have a pretty specific diet and I rarely eat out, which means I spend way too much time cooking and cleaning, and I’m a terrible and messy cook (there’s a pasta sauce stain on my kitchen wall). I’ve been looking into hiring a personal chef to come once a week to do meal prep, but as you can imagine that’s quite expensive. I thought I’d give Sakara a try knowing that I would have to supplement the vegan meals with animal protein to reach my goals of toning up my body.
They have a beautiful website replete with all the vacuous buzzwords (clean, superfood, cleanse, detox, body intelligence etc) that credulous consumers eat right up (pun intended). Their website and promotional materials feature a skinny long-legged model who we are supposed to believe we could look like if we just eat their food long enough. Their whole image fits so nicely into the pseudo-spiritual sanctimonious lifestyle of Hollywood celebrity culture that it easily won an endorsement from Goddess Goop herself, Gwyneth Paltrow. The founders are cut from the same cloth in that they are blonde, statuesque, and au courant with their ingenious embracing of all things “natural.” In their own words, they are luxe hippies and their new age ideology is woven throughout their branding, lifestyle advice, and “9 Pillars of Nutrition” that they try to pass off as scientific. Their advisory board consists of a team boasting credentials that are even more meaningless than their marketing copy, including three “functional medicine” doctors. (I promise I will write an article soon explaining why functional medicine is a stupid concept and a treacherous use of a medical degree to sell snake oil.)
Food delivery services typically fail because of the enormous overhead that keeps them in the red, but with Sakara’s astronomical prices, maybe their business will profit. They’ve already raised several rounds of funding and they reportedly have $10.2M in revenue annually. To put that in perspective, the now-defunct meal service Munchery had somewhere between $10-50M with no profits. And the publicly traded Blue Apron brings in almost $700M but is still operating at a loss of about $120M. Not a safe bet in my book.
Here is a cost break down of their meal plans:
Signature 3 days a week (3 meals a day): $239 per week ($255 for the trial)
Signature 5 days a week (3 meals a day): $349 per week
Level II Detox (5 days total): $400
Bridal 20 Day Program: $1395
Sakara for me was a fail. As soon as I saw the meals, I had buyer’s remorse. The food was not as fresh as I hoped and much sadder looking than the pictures on their website. A typical day of meals consists of a sugary fruit-based breakfast, an unpalatable vegetable-based lunch, and a salad for dinner. Lettuce and greens were the most frequently used ingredients and the bulk of their meals. An example of a salad is a large bowl of raw spinach with a slice of avocado with seeds and cacao nibs stuck to it at the bargain price of $29. The small breakfast meals, such as banana pudding parfait, are packed with “natural” forms of sugar such as coconut sugar and maple syrup. But I’m sorry to say, sugar is sugar, and if you don’t burn it off, it will convert to fat.
The food was a significant downgrade from what I regularly eat which consists of organic whole foods and meat from local farmers prepared very simply with a generous addition of healthy fats such as olive oil and avocado. My diet is high in protein and low in carbs, and I don’t eat gluten or dairy because of allergies. After years of experimentation, I’ve found that this is the ideal diet for me to reach my goals of building muscle while lowering body fat.
Sakara boasts that they don’t count calories because “calories don’t matter,” which is a convenient way to justify concealing the nutritional breakdown of their meals. Well, if you’re trying to lose weight like I’m sure 99% of the woman investing in the meal plans aspire to do, then it’s all about the calories. (A calorie surplus leads to weight gain and a calorie deficit leads to weight loss). And secondarily, it’s about the protein which is essential for building muscle which in turn burns fat, and I don’t need a nutrition label to tell you that this diet is too low in protein to build or even maintain muscle.
After the first day of meals I felt ill, which was likely due to the excessive amount of insoluble fibers (FODMAPS) I just consumed. I didn’t bother taking the probiotics the meal came with because the pills were too big for me to swallow (I’m a wimp with pills) and the evidence for probiotics is shaky, especially in pill form. I also skipped the incense ritual they recommended, and the detox tea was nothing special. I tried to eat more of the meals the next day but it made me feel gross, so I threw the remaining food away.
If you care more about the well-being of livestock than your own health and you have cash to burn, then go ahead and try this vegan diet. But make sure to supplement with pea and/or rice protein powder daily, and B12 as needed. For me, I think I’ll try the personal chef.