To me personally, they are not. A meal to me is something that needs to be chewed. I am not at the age yet, when I need things soft and through a straw.
Whether or not they are meal replacements depends a lot on what’s in them. Some are nothing but glorified high fat milk shakes, but it is certainly possible to create a concoction that is healthy.
I generally have smoothies for breakfast. I don’t consider it a meal replacement, I consider it a meal.
My smoothies never have milk in it, unless it is almond milk. It almost always has at least one banana added and other fruit–like berries, dates, peaches, nectarines melon or orange juice. During the winter I use winter fruits. For me it is a delicious, satisfying breakfast.
If someone is following the more meals, smaller portions plan, then it certainly would. For people who aren’t hungry in the mornings or forget to eat, I always recommend a shake or smoothie. On a side note, I found this new product called Orgain, which I really like (don’t worry, I’m not selling it, I’m just sharing my recent discovery). It’s USDA Organic approved and created by a physician and cancer survivor. It packs about 255 calories, 16 grams of protein and additional vitamins and nutrients added via fruits and vegies. It takes really great and comes ready to drink. I’m trying it out this week to see how I like it. When life gets busy, a smoothie is a great resource, in my opinion!
I chuckled at Karin’s answer but COMPLETELY AGREE with her! Webster’s defines a “meal” as “an act or the time of EATING…” it also says “the portion of food EATEN…” (my own emphasis added here). For me to to consider something a meal, the first threshold for me is that it is something that I chew/eat (absent of course some medical or health reason for me to intake only liquids for my diet). So, for me, whenever I intake a smoothie, it’s with the idea that it is a “snack” that is tiding me over, or “supplementing” (I don’t mean this in the way that some speak about “supplements” because I don’t believe in them) my regular meal.