Soylent, You Say?

soylent_rob

Eating is one of those simple, mechanical tasks that is so easy in principal, but so time-consuming in reality.

Eating at home is certainly the cheaper option, but it requires the time spent shopping and preparing the food, plus the even more time-consuming, ghastly and horrific climax of having to wage war against a sink full of dishes.  Eating out is less work, of course, but this benefit is negated by it being more expensive.  The time spent working, so that one can afford for eat out regularly, renders this option equally problematic.  However, there’s no beating our need to consume.  Eating is an addiction we can’t really be freed from.

But what if there was an easy solution?

To understand exactly what Soylent is, the best way to start is to watch the informative video here on their website.  Don’t worry, it’s short – and packed full of interesting information!

From the official website:

Soylent™ was developed from a need for a simpler food source. Creator Robert Rhinehart and team developed Soylent after recognizing the disproportionate amount of time and money they spent creating nutritionally complete meals.

Soylent is a food product (classified as a food, not a supplement, by the FDA) designed for use as a staple meal by all adults. Each serving of Soylent provides maximum nutrition with minimum effort.

While we’re at it, let’s take a look at Rhinehart’s interview on The Colbert Report.  Good stuff, and pretty informative.  Also, some information here from the official website’s FAQ:

Soylent is:

1. Healthy: Soylent’s nutritional makeup includes protein, carbohydrates, fats, fiber, and vitamins and minerals such as potassium, iron and calcium. It includes all of the elements of a healthy diet, without undesirables such as sugars, saturated fats, or cholesterol.

2. Easy: Soylent is a convenient powder that is mixed with water.

3. Cheap: Healthy food can be expensive and takes time to prepare. At around $3/meal, Soylent is affordable.

soylent_colbert

So by now, we all understand the basic idea.  Soylent (the name of which is, yes, inspired by Harry Harrison’s Make Room!  Make Room!) is a substance that’s intended to replace food for at least one meal a day, or all three meals for the more ambitious among us.  Minimal preparation, low cost, bland flavor and barely any time consumption whatsoever.  While opinions differ wildly—at least one writer for The New York Times called it “the most joyless new technology to hit the world since we first laid eyes on MS-DOS” —I think that this view misses the point.  Nobody eats something like Soylent for the taste, and Soylent clearly isn’t intended to be pleasurable; it’s a product made for purely functional reasons, for people that are so busy and pressed for time that they don’t care about the more pleasurable aspects of food.  Admittedly, this isn’t everyone, but the growing popularity of Soylent does point toward a sizable audience.

soylent_harrison

As for me?  Soylent certainly holds a strong appeal.  I’m so continually busy that I often will grab at the quickest, least involved item of food available, more for the sake of filling my stomach than enjoying it.  Now, I wouldn’t want to survive off of only Soylent, as I do love eating; occasions like dinner and lunch are important social rituals that shouldn’t be left behind, and there are few things as amazing as a well-prepared meal. That said, I can’t imagine that most people are interested in a Soylent-only diet; reportedly, even Rhinehart still supplements his Soylent intake with regular food.

While I’m still on the fence, I’ll admit to being very tempted by the idea of using it to replace some of the more rushed meals of the day, such as breakfast.  As someone who is definitely not a morning person, my so-called “breakfast” is usually a rushed and sordid affair that involves jamming unappetizing items into my stomach as quickly as possible, until the hunger stops. Soylent would offer a nice, easy alternative.  That said, I don’t want to rush it into it.  My current feeling is that I’d rather wait until some more research studies are done reflecting the effects of Soylent on health.  In the meantime, I’ll keep tabs on it for a year or so.

soylent_ad

The other potentially wonderful benefit of Soylent is that its creation could be an amazing new development in the fight against world hunger, which is something Rhinehart intends to use it for.  Cheap, nutritious and easily produced, Soylent could potentially change the game in a big way.

So what do you guys think?

To Soylent or not to Soylent?

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15 thoughts on “Soylent, You Say?

    • Totally agreed on that point. Considering how cheap Soylent is, in addition to being low-maintenance, nutritious, and filling, Soylent could really change everything in a pretty major way. For once, the notion of ending world hunger actually seems entirely believable.

      We’ll see. The next few years should definitely be interesting to watch.

  1. I read about this a while ago too and I wondered if it would ever actually get produced. I guess it has! I would try it for like a week, but I think it would drive me nuts eating/drinking the same powder every week.

    • Yep, it’s here!

      And oh yeah, that’s the only downside! Most of the experiences I’ve read describe the taste as resembling slightly sweet, watery bread. Not amazingly appetizing, but I suppose that for a functionality-based food like this one, being too bland is better than too strong.

  2. I can’t get past the name, and wanted to respond with, “but, but… Soylent Green is people!” But I was young and impressionable when I saw the movie based on Harry Harrison’s book. (I still have to wonder at the name choice.) I think it misses the whole foods boat, too, in that isolating what scientists think is the important part of the food turns out not to work without everything else that goes with it. On the other hand, something cheap, nutritious, and sustainable? As long as it isn’t people… 😉

  3. Yeah, after seeing the movie, Soylent Green, I think i’ll pass on the Soylent. Besides, there is something to be said for the way nature does things. It is much more beneficial for the human body to eat foods with the vitamins you need in them, rather than take vitamins.

  4. Very informative and well-written article. I would like to look into what this sets it apart from other foods that share the powder-water-mixing concept. I take instant mix shakes each morning. It would be a convenient solution for world hunger. However, I think the actual issue isn’t that there is not a substantial amount of food, rather the people behind distributing the food are not doing a great job.

    • That is true, distribution methods would have to be improved. And yes, it would be interesting to see what exactly separates it from other powder-water forms of nourishment, or things like Isosource (the food that they use for feeding tubes). It seems that the idea is that, ideally, Soylent would not merely be an “adequate” food substitute, but would actually be better and healthier than actual food.

      It’s still young, though, so I suppose we’ll see where this all goes with time.

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