Last week, I drank Soylent and ate nothing else.
Monday through Friday–breakfast, lunch, and dinner–all Soylent. Five bottles of 400 calories and all your daily nutrition.
Now this isn’t to be confused with the 1973 film Soylent Green, in which an overpopulated America begins grinding up people to sell meal replacement tablets. These pills were projected to exist in 2022. We’re but five years and a bottle away.
Soylent currently comes in powder and liquid form and has a few flavors–Original (chalky Cheerios), Cacao (chalky Cocoa Pebbles), Nectar (chalky Fruit Loops), and Coffiest (I can only assume chalky coffee; didn’t have it). Nutrition bars are in development, but no pills are on the market…yet. This isn’t a supplement like Muscle Milk or Pediasure, but a full meal replacement. Not only does it cut the time of meal prep, but Soylent is 100% vegan (so no human parts, to my knowledge) and has all the vitamins and minerals you need. It’s convenient, affordable, and tastes okay. It’s the sustenance of utopia.
But I’m not joining the cult. For now.
After a week of drinking liquified chalk, I gained a new appreciation for food. I now enjoy the variety of taste and texture and the act of chewing. My initial thoughts for trying Soylent was to improve efficiency and gain more free-time. Instead of slaving away in my kitchen to prepare meals, I could chug a Soylent and do more interesting things. But I didn’t find this to be the case. I often felt unfulfilled. I wasn’t hungry, but I craved food. Smell became more apparent. The neighbors’ daily cooking spices tickled my nose and aroused my palette. Distractions appeared everywhere as I longed for an opportunity to relax and turn off my mind. The time I used to complete tasks expanded to fit the new time I had gained–without improving quality or satisfaction. Ergo, upon consuming my last bottle of Soylent Friday afternoon, I indulged in a steak dinner and spent the weekend cooking meals for the week to come.
And this meal prep wasn’t tedious. It was quite enjoyable. Pre-Soylent, I was annoyed by the practicality of it–I needed to eat and this was the most affordable means to doing so. Post-Soylent, this was a choice. Whereas volunteering is more fun than work, cooking and eating food became more fun when it wasn’t required. I am by no means a foodie, but I am human and eating is beneficial to me. Socially, it’s nice to share a lunch. Personally, dinner is a mechanism to unwind from the day. The process of preparing a meal and consuming it helps refocus me and actually makes me more productive.
But this isn’t to say that Soylent failed. On the contrary: Soylent fulfilled all of my nutritional needs and kept me full. It proved that a pure liquid diet is feasible for me. Does that mean I’ll live entirely off Soylent in the future? Maybe. Will I in the foreseeable future? No. I’m not busy nor evolved enough to completely abandon traditional meals.
Soylent certainly has a place for contemporary breakfast or backup meals. It’s the new, healthy fast food and could honestly improve the health of many people worldwide–provide supplements to those lacking and cut the reliance on food to those consuming in excess. It has the potential to solve world food crises and may very well be the meal of the future. But until society changes to a food-less culture, Soylent may stay an interest of efficiency-obsessed Millennials. We’re too young to get the reference.