First, why 'shake' things up in the first place?
1. Shakes are fast meals, with no dishes to wash (just rinse your blender).
2. Liquid nutrition is more easily digestible (even blended broccoli, ugh).
3. Protein and fruit together is a tasty combo (I know it breaks the rules for food combining, but that is just one theory and many people do fruit and protein together with no issues)
4. Even a 'chunky monkey' shake is healthy! (we're talking banana, nut butter, and chocolate protein, omg yes)
So which protein powder is for you? Your main options: hemp, rice, soy, yellow pea, vega, whey, or hydrolyzed beef.
The first five are vegetarian, whey is dairy based, and the last one is obviously beef based. Let's go through them now. Remember, whichever you get, buy unsweetened, which is usually 2g or sugar or less per serving.
1. Hemp and rice - both I feel are kinda chalky, and don't mix great with water, but I've known people who love them both. Hemp has the advantage of good Omega 3 oils and rice is more protein per serving. Get whichever you're drawn to.
2. Soy - If you're not sensitive to soy, then I think soy is just fine. I know, there are naysayers who are like, 'Soy is evil! Soy brought down the Titanic!!'...but based on much reading, I think that's false. Like anything, it's individual. Best way to know is to try it and see how you feel.
3. Yellow pea or Vegetarian Protein or Vegan Protein - when you buy 'vegan' protein, it's usually a blend of protein powders, and the main one is yellow pea protein. Again, it's individual. Some people love yellow pea and digest it no problem. Other people find it makes them constipated (not healthy, please try rice or hemp).
4. Vega - this one is really yellow pea protein plus good stuff like probiotics, digestive enzymes, antioxidants from berries, fiber, and so on. It is meant as a meal replacement, and it costs the most. I know many people who love vega.
5. Whey protein - whey is from dairy, so some people (like me) who are sensitive to dairy, don't like it. It gives me bad gas and bloating. Again, you just gotta try some and see how you feel. If you do go for whey, I recommend finding some from grass fed cows. I've seen it, so I know it's out there. Also, buy clean whey if you can, without artificial sweeteners.
6. Hydrolyzed Beef - if you are in the US, I hear some people are really enjoying a new powder that is made from hydrolyzed beef protein. I haven't tried it myself, but if you eat meat then I think this would make a great protein shake. Yes, it sounds gross, but then so does a lot of things.
With all the above, what I recommend is this: get yourself two or three of the small packets (single servings) of protein powder, and try them out. See how it makes you feel. You might start with whey protein or hemp, it doesn't matter. Some nutrition stores will even give you free samples! Then you'll know that 'I like whey', or 'Veggie protein makes me feel good.'
If you choose one, and you make a couple shakes with it, and it gives you a lot of bloating or gas, might be wise to try a different one.
The next question is: what should I put in my protein shake? After all, how can you experiment on your family without a recipe?!? (Joking! Please experiment on yourself)
The Whole Food Shake
How to Make a Protein Shake (I give away my secrets!)