One Month on Soylent, the Liquid Food Substitute. What is it Good For?

I haven’t been living off this stuff entirely. I wouldn’t recommend that for a couple of reasons, in particular if you’re male, due to the high soy content. But I have been drinking one per day, and can report that I’ve felt improvements to my energy level, mood and joints.

Now, keep in mind we’re also coming out of winter here. So those improvements might just be due to the slowly warming weather. Carl Sagan said “take care not to fool yourself, because you are the easiest one for you to fool”. With that in mind, on paper at least, it does offer some sound benefits.

Namely, when you eat according to what looks good to you, what your body gets in terms of nutrients, minerals and proteins is essentially random. You can wind up with huge deficiencies of some mineral or vitamin this way and never realize it until you become persistently sick.

Soylent is like a nutritional lubricant which fills in those gaps. It’s nutritionally balanced to provide exactly what the human body needs in the exact right ratios. However each bottle supplies only one fifth of the calories you need in a day.

This makes it a good supplement if you’re not keen on the idea of becoming some sort of bland robotic unit which subsists entirely off a synthetic liquid. I mean, that sounds rad as fuck to me, but for everybody else I’ll have to pitch the concept differently I think.

So, what is it good for? That’s a question I asked before I bought my smartwatch or wireless phone charger. They both seemed like solutions in search of a problem. Only after I had them and used them for a while did I realize their true utility.

The same goes for Soylent. I thought, when am I going to prefer drinking this to eating out, or making a quick simple meal from things in the fridge? When I’ve woken up at 4 in the morning with a grumbling stomach, it turns out.

When that happens, you no longer have to get out of bed and make yourself a late night snack, fully waking yourself in the process and making it difficult to get back to sleep. If you keep some bottles of soylent by the bed, you can just chug one, and it makes your hunger disappear.

It’s very much like a cheat code to make hunger go away, in that respect. There’s no preparation. It will keep for 1 year with no refrigeration. There are no dishes to clean afterwards. The more I drank it during rare situations like waking up hungry, the more it grew on me, and I began to rely on it at other times as well.

For example when you’re in the middle of writing an article, your stomach growls, but your fridge is mostly bare and you don’t want to take a break because you’re ‘in the zone’. Chug a soylent. Bam, hunger gone. It skips entirely around the whole tedious ordeal that obtaining or preparing food usually entails.

It’s fair to ask, isn’t that ordeal one of the major pleasures of life? If we cheat our way past the experience of making and eating food, why live? This is why I say that you shouldn’t subsist entirely on Soylent. Maybe someday, hardcore gaming cafe junkies will, so they don’t have to stop playing.

Probably VR addicts will also go down that road. I’m borderline myself. But for everybody else, Soylent isn’t a total food replacement and doesn’t have to be. It’s very much like Ensure, or other dietary supplement drinks for the elderly, but marketed to a younger demographic.

And why not? It’s vegan, but you don’t have to put all that work into assembling a vegan diet that’s nutritionally complete. That work has already been done for you before it was even bottled. It’s (very) good for you, however difficult that is to believe when you look at a beige synthetic liquid in a plastic container.

Really, once you get over how strange it is, Soylent fills a valid niche and serves a useful purpose. It’s the ultimate evolution of fast food, but for the health conscious. We don’t have many healthy fast food options in the US, which accounts for our obesity epidemic.

When you’re in a hurry and need to eat, don’t go to the drive thru for a burger. Chug a soylent. Your body will thank you, because you’re giving it all sorts of good stuff it normally doesn’t get enough of, and you’ll feel better as a result.

Now, about the flavors. Having tried every flavor, I would rank them accordingly: Cacao, plain, coffiest, cafe vanilla, chai. Of the lot, only cacao tastes properly sweet. The vanilla is surprisingly bitter. They didn’t load these with sugar because that would defeat the point.

Chai is nasty and tastes like satan’s sweaty asshole. Not that I speak from experience or anything. Coffiest does taste like coffee and is acceptable if you like coffee flavored things. Plain is just…meh. It’s designed to be meh. It tastes almost like nothing at all. It is to food what water is to drinks.

Cacao tastes more or less like chocolate milk. How do you like that? When you were a kid, you weren’t allowed to drink chocolate milk for every meal because it was bad for you. Now it’s the future, and you can subsist entirely on chocolate milk if you want, and it’ll actually improve your health. That’s what I call progress.

The price is still a bit of a sticking point. At $4 per bottle it’s kind of a hard sell, given how much fast food that buys you. But you have to remember that it keeps for a long time without refrigeration, it’s a health food, it’s vegan yet nutritionally balanced ahead of time, and all the other compelling benefits.

It will be an easier sell when the price comes down. But even where it is right now, it’s a justifiable expense compared to fast food because of how they compare in a nutritional sense. Try swapping out one of your meals for a Soylent for a month, and see if you don’t feel better. More alert, more energetic.

Never mind that the fact that it contains every chemical element our bodies need to self-repair and grow necessarily means it’s basically the same composition as a liquefied human, if broken down to their constituent chemical substances. Just don’t think about that. Probably it wasn’t somebody you know.

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