Soylent: a meal replacement beverage, advertised as a “staple meal”, available in both liquid and powdered forms. Its creators state that Soylent meets all nutritional requirements for an average adult.
Can it actually replace meals, nutritionally speaking?
According to the creator of Soylent, Rob Rhinehart, yes, one can replace all meals with Soylent. To prove this, he went on a thirty-day period of only drinking this concoction, blogging the entire process for the public to see (link to everything will be at the end of the post). One can see that he personally felt as if he thrived off the drink, reporting an overall improvement in health and mental agility. So yes- one can live on solely Soylent when viewing nutrition as a purely quantitative factor; however, because of the fact that this is a fairly new product, it is important to note that no long term experiments have been performed to promise the safety of the long-term consumption of Soylent.
What are the pros to Soylent? Why would one choose to drink it?
- Affordable. At $3/meal, it is hard to guarantee the variety of nutrients that Soylent provides in any other food for that amount of money.
- Structure. People always forget or skip their meals. With such a portable and short preparation time, it will add more structure to one’s day and a more consistent time in meal consumption.
- Quick. The largest group of clients right now for Soylent is Silicon Valley as a whole. Because of all the startups and businesses exploding in that particular locations, workers have begun to request that their jobs provide Soylent as to increase productivity amongst the workers.
- Nutrients. Unless one eats an extremely calculated and well-balanced meal, it is hard to get all the nutrients that Soylent provides within a day.
- People claim to feel better. Although there are mixed responses, many people do say that after living of Soylent for X number of days,weeks, months, they do feel a bit quicker mentally.
- Environmentally beneficial. With no food waste and little waste in the preparation of the food itself, the environmentally benefits of people going on Soylent is great. On a mass scale, it could affect our current carbon footprint in big ways.
What are the cons to Soylent? Why hasn’t it become widespread yet?
- As stated above, we do not know the long term results from using Soylent, so health defects it may lead to may lead to may not have been found yet.
- Loss of bodily functions. Long term use of a liquid-only diet can result in the body’s loss of functionality including digestion, bowel movement, and the uptake of nutrition.
- Tradition and culture. Food is so essentially tied to culture and the way they were raised. Switching to a Soylent diet could result in the loss of culture among the general public.
- Social Interactions. Meal time is one of the few times where putting the phone away, shutting down the computer, and “signing off” is allowed and even expected. Removing this could result in a serious lack of communication amongst people on a social, relatable level. Already, people spend an unhealthy number of hours in front of screens. This may only increase with the use of Soylent.
- Taste. Many people complain about the taste. Food is a necessity, but it can also be something people can enjoy. Soylent may take away the enjoyment of cuisine and dining, both of which has been scientifically proven to raise one’s dopamine levels.
In summary, nutritional health is important, but the cultural and mental health of people are- for the most part-completely ignored when taking on the Soylent lifestyle. This raises the question of how ethical such a diet could be.
Is this the future of food?
Honestly? Probably not; however, one thing Rob said that did stand out was his point that our current relationship with food (food waste, overconsumption, overproduction) is not sustainable nor is it smart considering the environment and the U.S.’s relationship with health. A solution must be found, but whether that solution is Soylent is a bit hard to say at this point in time.
To know the basics about Soylent:
Link to Rob Rhinehart’s blog with his personal 30-day challenge: http://robrhinehart.com/
Official Soylent Ad:
Man Goes on Soylent Diet for 30 Days Himself:
Article on Calorie Restriction:
Money Spent on Food: