When I first heard about Soylent, I thought the whole idea was just ridiculous. I mean, why would anyone choose to give up food for…well, a bag of powder and oil? I can barely go 48 hours without chocolate, though, so I shouldn’t be one to judge. But giving up food completely? That’s intense, yo. Anyway, after learning that a couple of my close friends use Soylent (quite religiously, too), I became increasingly curious. Is Soylent really a sensible alternative to regular food?
For those of you who don’t know what Soylent is, it’s a packaged food product designed to provide all necessary protein, carbohydrates, lipids, and nutrients that our bodies need to function. It comes in powder form and you mix it with water. You can also get the pre-mixed version for a slight premium. It’s also super affordable—you can get a day’s worth of “meals” for about $9. Rob Rhinehart, the Founder of Soylent, had gotten tired of spending so much time planning, shopping, cooking, and eating food. He wanted something simpler (and cheaper), while still being able to meet his nutritional needs.
The product he created, however, has become quite controversial—mostly from a safety standpoint. Rhinehart is a software engineer, not a nutritionist or biologist. He literally tested this product out on himself and a few willing volunteers and tweaked the product accordingly (Reinagel, 2014). Not a very thorough development method, by most standards. And because the product is relatively new, there have been no official studies or clinical trials conducted to assess the long-term effects of the product. This whole new way of “eating” has also sparked considerable debate. People eat for different reasons—stress, hunger, happiness, procrastination—you name it. I know that 80% of the time I eat, it’s not just because I’m hungry. Soylent can’t satisfy the emotional component of why we eat. It reduces eating down to a function, and in the long run, some argue that it’s just simply not sustainable.
But of course, there are two sides to every story, and with a relatively new product like Soylent, I think it’s important to hear out both:
This argument is definitely not one-sided! As of now, though, it seems like most of the “cons” of the product hinge on uncertainties, simply because the product is so new. So it’s not so much that the product IS bad…it’s more that the product COULD be bad. So personally, I’d probably wait until more studies/trials are conducted to really assess the long-term effects of the product. I might try it out for a couple meals, though, just to see what it’s like. But I’m by no means in a rush to give up food completely.
The most powerful argument against Soylent, in my opinion, is also the most obvious, which is why I didn’t list it in the comparison table above. Food, for most people, is about the experience. Sure, it takes time to shop/prep/eat, but so many wonderful aspects of our lives are entwined with food: social gatherings, celebrations, holidays, etc. You take that away and food no longer has any meaning. With Soylent, eating becomes simply a function. Definitely not sustainable, in my opinion. I can understand if you use Soylent as an occasional substitute for when you don’t have time to eat and just need something to feel full, but tossing out food completely for a liquid drink? No thank you.
I came across an article a while back, but wasn’t able to find it for this post. The author had said something along the lines of:
“Delight. It’s the basic ingredient of all foods that Soylent creators seem to have forgotten.”
I think that’s so true! Anyway, hope ya’ll found this helpful. What are your thoughts on Soylent?
** Additional sources:
- Warshaw, Hope. “Nutrition Q&A: Pros and Cons of Soylent.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 16 Sept. 2014. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.
- Sinicki, Adam. “After Food: Is Soylent a Useful Replacement for Food?” After Food: Is Soylent a Useful Replacement for Food? N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.
- Reinagel, Monica. “Can Soylent Replace Food?” Scientific American. N.p., 8 Oct. 2014. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.