have the taste buds of a picky child. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always detested eating vegetables, and when I was 4 or 5 I remember crying about having to eat green beans. I had always imagined various solutions to this problem, the most practical being ingesting a handful of pills every day, and the most fantastic being having a door in my stomach for direct access, so I wouldn’t have to taste the vegetables. These solutions, while ingenious, were far from being feasible or sustainable, so when I read on the internet about Soylent, a nutritionally complete meal replacement shake, I was tentatively ecstatic. With the solution to all my nutritional deficits in reach, I was only worried about whether or not Soylent would be palatable to humans.
The development process of Soylent was one that is emblematic of the modern startup. The initial prototype was developed by a rogue engineer and the process catalogued on his blog in early 2013. Because the recipe for Soylent was open sourced for the community to use as they wished, an entire DIY community evolved around it. They began producing hundreds, if not thousands of variations on Soylent, complete with their own original names including, but not limited to, Schmoylent, Body Fuel, and People Chow. That original blog post went viral on the internet, and before long, a crowd funding campaign was born. The campaign raised 1.5 million dollars, then the creators received an additional 1.5 million in venture capital funding. Fast forward about 1.5 years, skip past many production delays, and the original Soylent backers (myself included) are finally receiving their orders of Soylent!
In the early planning stages of this Odyssey, I had identified Soylent as a candidate for an inexpensive, portable, healthy, easy to prepare, and nutritious option for food on the road. I was able to obtain a month’s worth of Schmoylent, an independent variation of Soylent, from www.custombodyfuels.com. So far living on Schmoylent has been amazing in almost every respect. It costs $3 per meal, comes bagged by the day in powder form, and takes about 5 minutes to prepare (just add oil and water, shake, then chill). I found that I’m able to fit an entire months worth of food in a space of 1.5 feet cubed. This is extremely compact, which is critical when you’re living in a Honda Odyssey.
After subsisting on a diet that primarily consists of Soylent for two weeks now, and having talked to many people about it, I feel qualified to address a few common questions, misconceptions, and points regarding this futuristic super-food.
Q: Are you insane? Don’t you like eating?
A: No, I don’t think I could be considered insane. I prefer eccentric, or bohemian. I do enjoy eating, but there are a few things that keep me from eating in a cheap and nutritional manner. I don’t like grocery shopping, I don’t like spending time cooking, I don’t like owning the necessary utensils for cooking, I don’t like cleaning up after dinner, I don’t like vegetables, and I would prefer to spend my time doing many things other than food preparation tasks. To that you may say, “get over it,” and I would respond, “No, because I don’t have to.” I do like eating, and Soylent has allowed me to have the extra money and willpower to really enjoy traditional food, mostly in social settings. I wouldn’t reject an opportunity to go to dinner with friends just to keep drinking Soylent, but utilitarian meals that are often eaten alone, like breakfast and lunch, are much better candidates for Soylent consumption. This new pattern of eating makes me appreciate traditional food even more, and has spawned the slogan: “I love eating, but Soylent works!”
Q: So how did you eat before Soylent?
A: I ate out way too much. Almost every meal. It was a waste of money, gas, time, and meant I had a rather poor diet. Eating out is also convenient and delicious, so I didn’t have much incentive to change.
Q: So what does it taste like? It certainly doesn’t look appetizing.
A: Official Soylent tastes vaguely like chocolate, vaguely like coffee, vaguely like vanilla, but ultimately not like any of those. The taste is very neutral, neither great nor disgusting. Schmoylent, which I am currently eating, tastes kind of like pancake batter. Again, it’s neither good nor bad. This question resulted in the farcical slogan: “Soylent, it has everything the body needs, and it doesn’t make you gag!”
*Poop talk below. Skip if squeamish, or unable to read about it without giggling uncontrollably*
Q: Doesn’t it liquify your excrement?
A: No. In fact, because it is nutritionally complete and has all the fiber you need, digestive processes become far more smooth and efficient. Additionally, because the process of excretion is the body disposing of waste, you actually excrete far less because your body uses almost all of the Soylent you ingest. I find that only when I diverge from my Soylent diet, do I experience larger excretions.
Q: I’m so hungry all the time, I can’t imagine that Soylent would be filling.
A: That’s not really a question, but I know what you’re getting at. In my experience, it’s better than filling! When I eat a meal of traditional food, I normally feel full at the end, and sometimes uncomfortably full. This is because portion sizes in America are out of control, but I digress. When I drink Soylent, within 2-5 minutes of consuming it, I simply feel satisfied. Not full, but no longer hungry. I also suspect that some people feel hungry so frequently because they are missing key nutritional components in their diets, so no matter how much they eat, their body still craves more. I don’t have any research to back that up, but it makes sense to me!
Some other perceived benefits of Soylent include: better sleep, healthier skin and hair, less distinct body odor, more energy, no food comas, portability (get a thermos), shorter post-exercise recovery times, more vivid dreams (more on that in a later post), better for your teeth, more willpower in regards to food cravings, and better control over caloric intake.
To put it briefly, Soylent is the amazing food of the future, here today! I’ve really been enjoying it so far, and it has proved itself to me thus far that it is the perfect staple meal.