Despite what a lot of people think, being vegan doesn’t mean you’re healthy—it’s very easy to be a vegan junk food junkie. So every once in a while, after doing some fairly consistent damage, I go on a cleanse. Recently I tried Kaeng Raeng, detox drinks in powder form that first saw the light of day in founder and CEO Lindsay Reinsmith’s kitchen, when she was trying to lose weight. I caught up with Reinsmith and asked her to give me the skinny on her stuff.
Your site says Kaeng Raeng is “committed to veganism,” and a portion of your sales benefit The Humane Society of the United States. How important is veganism to your company?
As an animal rights activist and a vegan, it’s important for me to have a product and a company that match my personal interests and to support these organizations. But it’s also important to put a face and a person behind Kaeng Raeng; it’s not made in China by a giant corporation with offshore customer service. We’re a small business in Northern California, and we care greatly about the quality of our product and about helping people see the health and beauty that come from a plant-based diet.
Where does the name come from?
Kaeng Raeng means “be healthy, be strong” in the Thai language. I’m fascinated with Thai culture and cuisine and its focus on animal-free living, and I was inspired by the Phuket Vegetarian Festival, the largest in the world. So Kaeng Raeng celebrates vegan eating and sustainable, animal-free living. And although we have a Thai name, Kaeng Raeng is 100% made in the USA with only local ingredients.
Each packet contains less than 230 calories, from an ounce of freeze-dried fruit, plus non-GMO soybeans, psyllium for fiber and L. Acidophilus for digestion and immunity. Why soy as opposed to hemp or pea protein?
When we were finishing the formula, we conducted focus groups all over the country and tested soy, brown rice, hemp and pea proteins. Getting a full serving of protein per day (45 grams) would require a significant amount of those proteins, giving the product an overwhelmingly poor taste and increasing the cost by nearly 100%. We respect that customers want a high-quality product without having to pay a fortune, so we use non-GMO soy grown in California. There’s a lot of conflicting information about soy, so we encourage people to do their own research. On a side note, we also found that mainstream consumers are confused about hemp, often equating it with marijuana.
Many cleanses recommend omitting or minimizing fruit because of the sugar content. Why is fruit the main componenet of Kaeng Raeng, and how do you prevent that sugar spike?
Kaeng Raeng follows the principles of a raw diet, centered on raw fruits and vegetables. KR is also more carbohydrate-driven than other plant-based diets that are focused on nuts and oils; this is for calorie restriction and energy during the short-term raw diet. The shakes are made primarily with fruit for taste. But while Kaeng Raeng contains fructose, it also contains a significant amount of fiber (13 grams per pouch), which regulates blood sugar levels.
You suggest detoxing with three powders a day for three or six days. Who benefits from what length of time, and are there any other differences?
We have customers of all different backgrounds, ages and body types. While we find that most people get the best results from our six-day program, many begin to feel better and get the jumpstart they need after only three days on a plant-based diet. We have three levels, which vary in cleansing power: Beginner, Veteran and Master. The Veteran and Master levels have significantly more fiber and are really designed for people who’ve done cleanses before or who already incorporate high-fiber foods into their diet.
Can the drinks be used as a meal replacement, too, or only as detox aids?
Kaeng Raeng is great as a meal replacement; that’s often how I drink it. It’s incredibly filling and is packed with so many things most of us don’t get in our daily breakfast or lunch, including a full serving of fruit, fiber, 15 grams of protein, two billion live cultures, and daily vitamins, including 100% of the required vitamin C and B12.
You suggest supplementing with raw fruits and vegetables, but the longer I let my drinks sit, the thicker they got; I was barely finished with one when it was time for the next! Is adding raw food a necessary part of the Kaeng Raeng cleansing process?
Adding raw food is not necessary. But we find that most people who are trying a plant-based diet for the first time have difficulty with a liquid-only diet, so we encourage snacking on raw food to make the process easier; it can also make the shakes sweeter or more flavorful. Remember, a lot of people eat an extraordinary amount of processed sugar every day, so easing them into the cleanse by allowing raw fruits and vegetables is a great way to help them keep from cheating or giving up.
We’re so happy to have the support of Dr. Jampolis, who’s not vegan but who definitely promotes a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables. We’re a vegan company, started by a vegan, with a vegan product and supporting vegan organizations. That’s a lot of vegan! But not everyone cares about those things; they simply want something that’s good for them and, more importantly, that works. With so many competing products out there, some safe and some not, it’s great to have support from the medical community. It helps the general public decide what they want to spend their money on.
The fruit in your powders comes from local farmers in Northern California who grow organically, and you use recycled boxes for packaging and encourage your customers to reuse bottles. Why is sustainability important to you?
For a few reasons. First, there’s no better way to reduce your carbon footprint than to support a plant-based diet; the meat and dairy industries wreak havoc on the planet, contributing greatly to climate change. So having a vegan product was a no-brainer. Second, we support local farms and local suppliers. Sure, our product would be a lot cheaper if it was made overseas with the cheapest possible ingredients, and there are plenty of supplement companies that do that. But because we buy local, we know we’re protecting our customers’ health and lowering our own footprint. Third, small businesses create a lot of waste, so it’s easy to become part of the problem instead of part of the solution. We not only use local ingredients and recycled packaging, but our entire office structure is based around low waste. For example, we don’t produce paper brochures or materials.
The link between veganism and environmentalism is hugely important—I love when vegan companies incorporate eco-friendly practices!
Meanwhile, let’s talk taste and texture: When you add liquid to Kaeng Raeng, pieces of fruit rehydrate, so there’s actually something to chew as well as drink. And the flavors are great—fruity but not too sweet. My favorite was the Strawberry Raspberry Pineapple, followed by the Blueberry Blackberry Banana and the Mango Peach Pineapple. Any new flavors on the horizon?
Not at this time. But we’ve had a lot of interest in a “green” flavor that would be vegetable-based, so we’re trying to find the best way to produce that cost-effectively. And we hope to come out with a protein-free version next year, so people can add whatever type of protein powder they want.
Kaeng Raeng is available online in three- and six-day supplies of three packets per day. Choose from Beginner (gentle), Veteran (medium intensity) and Master (the highest concentration of fiber), ranging in price from $64.99 to $149.99.