During quarantine, with most of us turning to comfort food and relying on shelf-stable ingredients, it can be hard to eat all your fruits and vegetables. Which is why I was intrigued by Vejo, a blender and pod system that claims to make getting those recommended daily nutrients easier. So I took them up on their offer to try sample their product.
Founded in 2015, Vejo is a connected portable blender. It pairs with the company’s biodegradable pods, which are filled with freeze-dried fruits and vegetables and come in varieties like pre- and post-workout, detox, and sleep enhancement. Just add water, insert a pod, twist on the cap, and the blender will whir up a nutritious drink in 30 seconds.
I got the starter kit, which costs $130 and includes the blender and 8 Vejo drink pods. Additional pods can be purchased a la carte or as a subscription and equal out to roughly $4 per serving. There’s also an app which you can use to reorder pods and set reminders to make your drink, which I declined to download.
The first thing I noticed when I opened up my Vejo box was ‘dang, this is heavy.’ The Vejo blender — which looks like a silicone-coated thermos — was in a padded box, swaddled like an iPad. The pods all came in a separate box, alongside which there was a charger pod, charging cord, and a brush for cleaning. I’m guessing there was so much packaging to make you feel like you’re getting a luxury good — which, considering its high price point, makes some sense. But I felt super wasteful tossing it into my recycling bin later.
Ready for some healthy smoothie blends, I opened up the instruction manual to see that… I had to charge the blender for a minimum of two hours. It’s nice that the Vejo came with its own charger, but I hate having yet another piece of hardware to lose. And it was annoying to have to wait two hours to charge something up when I was ready to try it out right then and there.
Finally, two hours later, I decided to give the Vejo a go with a Clean Greens drink. Per the instructions, I filled the blender up to the fill line inside with cold water, peeled the top off the pod, and popped it into the device upside-down. Then I screwed on the top tightly until it began to buzz. Thirty seconds later, after the buzzing stopped, I took out the pod and composted it (the biodegradable pods are a nice touch, despite all the other packaging).
The smoothie was… fine. It definitely tasted healthy, which is to say it wasn’t very delicious — but it did include spinach, cucumber, and sea buckthorn, all of which are good for you. My bigger quarrel is that the finished drink was tiny. The finished product barely took up half of the glass I use for my morning smoothie. And since most of the pods instruct you to fill the blender with water, this drink would definitely not keep me full. I tried three other drinks and, while some of the sweeter ones like Pina Berry tasted better, none left me wanting to make them again.
The price — pods equate out to be about $4 per serving — is certainly cheaper than buying a smoothie out or even using a service like Daily Harvest, whose frozen, pre-portioned smoothie cups run about $7 each. But Daily Harvest’s blends are a lot more robust — and taste a lot better, too. Plus there’s something to be said about eating real fruit, even if it’s frozen, instead of powder mixed with water.
You can also just use a regular old blender (gasp!) and put your own frozen fruit in, which makes a drink that’s both tastier and more customizeable. For customers looking for a blender of the future, may I suggest the cordless, silent appliance from Millo? True, it doesn’t have the pre-mixed pods, but do consumers really want to be locked in, especially to something that doesn’t taste good?
Vejo also offers a high-end personalization service called Vejo+ which makes individualized pod blends to best fit a consumers’ biology. The company sends one of its phlebotomists to Vejo+ clients to do a blood draw, which they analyze, along with weight measurements, and formulate pods to help the clients reach their health goals. That fits right into the broader biomarker-based customization trend that’s being built by Genopalate, Viome, Sun Genomics and others.
Vejo+ costs $1,500 for three months, which is way over my price range — and about triple the price of other personalized nutrition services. However, in my opinion it’s much more useful, and unique, than Vejo’s current service.
Interest around Vejo+ aside, I found that regular old Vejo fell short. Considering we’re all trying to eat more vegetables but restrict our trips to the grocery store, I can see Vejo’s appeal. Especially if you’re an elite athlete or need a reliable way to ingest copious amounts of produce and vitamins. But for me, what Vejo offered in pure health just didn’t make up for its poor taste and bulkiness.
I guess I’ll have to get my fruits and vegetables from regular old fruits and vegetables.