Soylent, a beige goop alternative to eating food?

soylent nutritional drink

A liquid formula that goes down easy and provides you enough nutrients for the day. Would you ever start eating soylent?

Heeding my own advice not to eat in front of the computer, I set a place at the table and fetched a plate of fresh Parmesan-scrambled eggs. There were also halved cherry tomatoes and scallions sauteed in local olive oil. I ate the eggs and tomatoes with a warm pita, mopping up the juices with wedges torn from the bread. Then I enjoyed a cup of Turkish coffee brewed in my little finjan, and a slice of sweet, juicy watermelon. Sounds good? It was.

I then felt ready to tackle the idea of a world where people subsist, and possibly thrive on, bland beige goop. It’s called Soylent, it’s a substitute for food, and you can order it online.

A mixture of nutritional powders blended with water and oil, Soylent is the brainchild of Rob Rhinehart, an electric engineer and software developer in Los Angeles. Resenting the time given to bodily hunger, Rhinehart and a team of friends developed a liquid formula that, he claims, provides all the nutrition a human needs. It’s said to taste not bad, and consumers report that they feel no hunger all day.

What’s in Soylent? Here’s the nutrition breakdown.
Carbohydrates
252g
Protein
114g
Fatty Acids
70g
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
2.5g
Fiber
27g
Potassium
3500mg
Sodium
1050mg
Calcium
1000mg
Phosphorus
700mg
Magnesium
400mg
Vitamin Bp
1375mg
Vitamin C
90mg
Vitamin B3
16mg
Vitamin E
15mg
Zinc
11mg
Iron
21.5mg
Vitamin B5
5mg
Manganese
2.3mg

The original formula has fish oils, but there is a vegan version.

The idea has spread. Soylent enthusiasts can create their own, DIY versions via this online calculator. Good for dieters. Cheap enough to possibly be the solution for world hungerr – if donors can overcome inefficient or corrupt governments who hoard imported goods, create black markets out them, or just let things go to waste on the shipping docks.

There’s also the inconvenient fact that most people like to eat.

Don’t get me wrong. I myself nursed a desperately ill family member back to health with the aid of Ensure, a life-support liquid food that comes in a can. Soylent, or an equivalent formula, might have been even better. Soylent is great for travelers, especially those who trek through locations where food supplies are unreliable. But I’m glad to say that my loved one has been enjoying real food again for years.  I shudder to think of a culture where the joy of food fades away into gray obsolescence.

In an interview with The New Yorker, Rhinehart refers to real food as “recreational.” According to his vision of utopia, there’d be no need for anyone to eat meals anymore except as occasional treats, thus saving valuable time spent growing food, shopping, cooking, and washing up. He himself has lived almost entirely on Soylent for the past year and a half, and says that he’s never felt or looked better.

The seductive video on the Soylent site persuades you to see the product as a fix that will liberate you from worrying about food ever again, a tool that will free you to live as you like. A cute young woman blends up her daily Soylent in the approving presence of an equally cute guy dressed in something that resembles a chef’s jacket. I darkly suspect that particular scene, which lasts less than a second, is meant to subliminally associate Soylent with real food and so calm down viewer’s food-separation anxieties.

Um. Think of workers sipping Soylent from a cup all day, never needing lunch breaks and working ever more productive hours in their office cubicles. Think of money universally saved on groceries. Who knows, maybe even on dentist’s bills. (With evolution, there might not even be a need for teeth anymore.) Think of kitchens swept clean of everything but a refrigerator and a blender. No more farms, no need for farmers, or even home gardens. No more markets. No cafes, restaurants, or picnics on the beach. Makers of babies’ high chairs gone out of business. Traditional family feasts, only stories to bore teenagers with. People will glow with health and vitality, fit as a fiddle and ready for the Brave New World.

Thanks. I’m keeping my messy kitchen, my weekly stroll through the open-air market and my cookbooks.  Virginia Woolfe put it well when she wrote, “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”

Majadra for dinner tonight.

Middle-Eastern Recipes For Food Lovers On Green Prophet:

:: The New Yorker

Image of man preparing Soylent via Soylent.me.

One thought on “Soylent, a beige goop alternative to eating food?

  1. David Cain

    There’s also the inconvenient fact that most people like to eat.

    Then eat food? I’m not sure why so many critics of soylent are assuming that it’s something everybody is meant to want. It’s a product you can buy if you have a use for it, and not buy if you don’t.

    Making cooking optional some (or potentially all) of the time is something some people will want to do. I love food and will never give it up, but I can definitely see using something like soylent for many of my meals. Pleasure and entertainment aren’t something I need out of every meal.

    Reply

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