Growing up, I always wondered how cats and dogs could live solely on Iams or Pedigree when humans are forced to eat a complex and balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, meats, grains, etc. Hamburger Helper and pizza rolls. This was all before I was aware of the existence of meal replacement drinks like Slim Fast or Ensure, but those aren’t a nutritionally “complete” food like I wanted. That’s when I heard about Soylent.
This article I read in 2012 about “Future Foods” is what got me interested in the concept of human kibble as an adult. The talk of lab-grown meat or using algae as a sustainable source of protein had me wondering what the future held for the food industry.
In 2014, I saw a video online about a man named Rob Rhinehart and a product he had developed a product called Soylent (yes like Soylent Green). The product was marketed as a vegan, nutritionally complete meal in powdered form. This “future food” is a minimalist’s dream: simple, affordable, and convenient. I’m not a health expert by any means, but the science behind Rosa Labs’ products is very interesting.
The product is Vegan, but not organic; lactose and nut free, but not certified kosher or GMO free; follows FDA guidelines, but not gluten free. An interesting mix of pros and cons depending on where you fall ideologically on any of those spectrums. I personally don’t care so much about whether it was organic or had lactose or gluten or any of those things. I just wanted a convenient meal replacement that had everything my body needs to function at optimum capacity (or at least better than I can on a diet of pizza rolls).
Before ever committing to making a purchase, I began to take interest in the product as their crowdfunding campaign brought in more than two million dollars. Since then I’ve lurked on the Soylent Discourse forums, the Reddit Soylent subreddit (/r/soylent), and on the DIY Soylent webpage where people can share their own recipes and variations.
Last month, I took the plunge and ordered 14 bags of the powdered version of Soylent (v 1.6). I had a 10% off coupon, free shipping, and it came with a complimentary pitcher and metal scoop, so why not? The order shipped quickly and arrived in only a few days via Fed-Ex. Sweet!
It was quite a process to get it properly mixed. You have to fill the pitcher halfway with cold, filtered water, add the full bag of powder-stuff without making a huge mess, and then shake the pitcher vigorously for thirty seconds. Then you fill the pitcher back up with more water and shake it again until you’re satisfied. I was so excited to try it that my wife and I mixed a pitcher (four servings) right away and immediately poured a ~500 calorie serving each.
As expected, the smell was… neutral, not much to it. We were both a bit put off by the aftertaste, which tasted “a little like cardboard”. That’s the only way I can use to describe it. Fortunately, it tastes infinitely better refrigerated. After a few servings, I got used to it. I can now drink it straight without any added ingredients, but my wife still prefers to make “smoothies” with Soylent, ice, bananas, and strawberries. Just as an aside, the PB-2 powdered peanut butter is an amazing additive (and it’s also great with cinnamon).
Note: If you are interested in trying Soylent 1.6, I do recommend purchasing one of those blender bottles that have one of those metal balls that help with mixing.
Though I enjoyed the convenience of the product itself, I was still a little put off by 1.6’s odd aftertaste. After some forum lurking, I talked myself into buying a batch of the pre-mixed and pre-bottled Soylent 2.0 drink. We bought 24 bottles in hopes that it tasted as good as everyone claimed.
With the 2.0, we didn’t drink one right away like we did with the 1.6. We gave it time to chill out in the fridge for a few hours and had a bottle each for dinner that night. Upon drinking, my wife and I both said “Hol-lee-shit!” in unison. The texture is less grainy, milkier, and has a sort of melted ice cream thickness to it. Instead of cardboard pancake batter, I get the pleasant “cereal and milk” flavor that I’ve heard mentioned in various places online.
So to those of you who have tried the 1.6 and didn’t like it, I would definitely recommend giving the Soylent 2.0 a chance. It’s more expensive, but it’s entirely worth it for the taste alone. Now that I’m used to the 1.6 flavor a little more, my plan is to use the 1.6 for most of my Soylent meals but to have the 2.0 bottles in the fridge as a backup for when I’m in a hurry. I have yet to try their new products, Coffiest and Bar, but they both seem like good alternatives for breakfast and on-the-go snacking respectively.
Even though I probably won’t ever live on a 100 percent Soylent-based diet, it is nice to have a meal replacement that can actually do the job nutritionally speaking. And though Soylent 2.0 is really everything I was looking for (and probably as close to human kibble as we’ll ever get) I am still very interested in the DIY community’s cheaper alternatives and some of the other similar products like Joylent, Hol Food, Schmilk (Super Body Fuel), and 100% Food.