Soylent: An Experiment to Replace Food

In hanging out with Justin last week, the topic of Soylent came up. It was something I had heard about, and I even had an article bookmarked for later reading (but never got around to it). When I learned that he was going to give it a try for two weeks… I got really intrigued, and decided to jump on board and give it a whirl.

Devised as a food substitute, Soylent is a powder that you add water to. The premise is that it contains all the ingredients you’ll need for a given day (one package = 1 day’s worth of food), and will provide you nourishment without requiring you to spend time cooking, eating, and cleaning up after each meal.

Here’s the video from the website:

Ok, so the Asian DJ swathed in the rope lights is definitely way too much. But I do like the other elements of the video.

In her article The End of Food, Lizzie Widdicombe interviews the one of the main creators behind SoylentRob Rhinehart.

The article is a really fascinating read, as it documents how Rhinehart and his friends came upon the concept, refined it, open-sourced the recipe, and then attempted to raise $100,000 on Kickstarter to make it an actual product (they hit their goal in 2 hours). As of now, it’s a full-fledged business with a very dedicated and growing fanbase (who create and share their recipes/variations on the official website).

[Rhinehart] imagines that, in the future, “we’ll see a separation between our meals for utility and function, and our meals for experience and socialization.” Soylent isn’t coming for our Sunday potlucks. It’s coming for our frozen quesadillas.

Liz was pretty skeptical at first, but she read over Widdicombe’s article and became as intrigued as I was. When my supply of Soylent arrives, she’s considering trying it out for a day or two.

The idea of drinking some kind of nutrient sludge in lieu of food is equal parts fascinating and scary. While I’m no foodie, I definitely like food as much as the next guy. But there’s also a part of me that dislikes the process of cooking, the prep as well as the cleanup afterwards. I tell myself that I’m trying Soylent out as a way to be more efficient with my time, but a large part of me wonders of the attraction isn’t just sheer laziness.

To an extreme, I wonder where the line is? If I’m willing to trade my solid food in for a nutrient-rich drink, is it really that weird for me to wear Depends, so I save myself the hassle of walking to the bathroom? Should I stop thinking of polyphasic sleep as a funny conversation topic, and embrace it as the timesaver it really is?

If something as constant and as basic as consming food can be replaced and modified… what else is up for grabs?

I know that I oftentimes bellyache about there not being enough hours in the day. I often complain to Liz that I wish I had more time. And while I expect this to be an ongoing thing, no matter how much free time I have… it’s going to be interesting to see what happens when I remove food from my daily routine.

The one downside is that, when ordering for the first time, the current delivery time has a delay of about 10-12 weeks. Once you become a customer, the time for re-orders is reduced to a week. Not sure why there’s such a drastic delay (demand, maybe?) but it should arrive in the next two months.

Justin was down for waiting (he ordered his supply about a week before I did), so that we can begin the process at the same time. Should be an interesting time, once this arrives. Guess this means I better load up on frozen quesadillas while I still can…

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