Soylent Experiment


I rarely eat breakfast. When I get up I want to get started on writing and the day’s work immediately. Plus I hate the prep time, and I’m not ready for solid food for a few hours after waking. So I often skip breakfast only to be ravenous at 10:00 AM. 

Lunch is my favorite time to catch up on small stuff, quick emails, read some articles, share things on Twitter, etc. Food prep is annoying and eating out gets expensive and often makes me feel sluggish, not to mention the time cost.

I’ve tried some protein shakes and such, but all are insufficient for a meal, costly, and taste bad. The best breakfast solution thus far has been homemade bone broth, but it’s a lot to make a batch and freeze it (I should say it’s a lot for my wife, because she’s the one who’s done it!).

I’ve been excited about the concept of Soylent since I read about it a few years ago. It’s logical. Food is made up of chemicals. Break it down to its most basic form and tinker with different delivery mechanisms.  The distinction between eating (for survival) and dining (for pleasure) is interesting to me, and the option to treat them separately if desired is freeing.

I ordered a box of 7 packets (one packet pictured above), which each contain 4 servings. Each serving is a 500 calorie meal with essentially all the nutrients an average body needs (obviously each body is very different in needs, so it’s a very rough average).  I know, just like that scene in the Matrix.

My order was $85 and shipped in two days along with a nice container to mix and pour from. It comes to about $3/meal. A good deal when you compare to most lunch options, decent compared to breakfasts.  It’s pretty simple. You just add water and shake. It’s an inoffensive beige color with virtually no smell and very little taste. Creamy and a bit gritty. I kind of like it. 

I plan to eat it for breakfast every day and lunch most days over the next few weeks. When I’m done I’ll post about the experience.

Most commenters on Facebook seemed to overlook the value of the concept when I shared the picture.  “Why would you want to replace delicious food with this slime?” assumes delicious food has no downsides. When I’m working and in the groove eating is a huge pain. I don’t want to have to stop. I don’t want to have to prepare or go to the store or a restaurant. I don’t want to have to pack frozen burritos the night before and wait by the microwave.  The more convenient lunches don’t taste that good anyway. If I’m going to just mindlessly munch a mediocre frozen burrito, trying not to burn my mouth or get grease on my laptop, why not just pour and drink a single glass of Soylent and be done with it?  If I’m not really enjoying the food then I’m not missing out anyway.  This isn’t competing with a juicy burger or steak any more than a new car is competing with walking shoes. They’re different products. I’m not looking to replace the good kind of eating, just the lame kind. 

I love food. I love the experience of dining. But during my most productive hours I’d rather not have to enjoy food until I’m relaxed in the evening. Since my body doesn’t do well without food for ten hour stretches, Soylent offers a potential solution.

Look for a recap in a few weeks.

(And no Sci-Fi fans, it’s not people).