Competitors of Soylent include "Space Nutrients" and "Schmilk" (whose website image looks like they shoveled some dirt off the ground).
Here in the astounding world of the future, we may not have our flying cars or jetpacks, but we do have our food pills. And it turns out they suck.
Target market: geeks
The gritty, oatmeal-like drink was created by tech entrepreneur Robert Rhinehart after he got fed up with the time and expense involved in eating in San Francisco. The main target market appears to be Silicon Valley technologists alienated by having a body, who wish to optimise away all that tedious bio stuff. Rhinehart in particular tends to describe everything to do with biology as "rotting" or synonyms thereof. Rheinhart also decided that taking a shit is also too biological and water wasting for his likes and decided to kill all of his gut flora in order to never poop again.
Soylent is surrounded by Silicon Valley technolibertarian batshit, e.g. Justine Tunney's suggestion that the poors be denied food stamps and just given Soylent instead. It appears there are a sufficient number of SV engineers with low standards of evidence.
Rinehart's company, Rosa Labs, boasts about how processed and artificial it is, regarding other food manufacturers who brag about "natural" and "organic" as having the wrong end of the stick. In a similar vein, it is proudly manufactured with GMOs.
Nutrition and health
Soylent is not a supplement. The website says that the FDA classifies it as a food. (The FDA has not, of course, said a word about it — what actually happened is that the company got a lab to say it qualifies.)
The product was formulated by Rhinehart to meet the nutritional needs of the average human as those needs were understood circa 2014. (Carrie Poppy of Oh No Ross and Carrie pointed out that this understanding may prove to have been wrong.) It comes in vegan and regular versions.
There are zero studies showing Soylent is a complete nutritional source, but the company claims the formula adds up that way. Eating Soylent according to the instructions provided means consuming about 2,000 calories with levels of various nutrients considered appropriate for the average adult.
An unfortunate, if not necessarily unintended, effect of subsisting on Soylent reported by reviewers is that it is boring and joyless, leading to a life as grey as the packets the stuff comes in. Another is that users are farty and shit weird.
Chronic consumption of some liquid diets is associated with dental caries. Not chewing food for long periods of time may also have adverse affects on gums and tooth retention.
Lead and cadmium
Soylent ingredients appear to be sourced cheap from China, leading to seriously questionable levels of lead and cadmium (along with other heavy metals). So you might want to avoid the stuff. Soylent counters these concerns with the fact that the levels of heavy metal in its products are only worrying by the standards of California's Proposition 65, which requires all food with heavy metal levels above a certain limit in the state to be clearly labelled as such, which Soylent… is not really.
The Proposition 65 warnings are in reality more of a "don't sue me" label to lawyers rather than an effective warning to California consumers, as their omnipresence has become a form of white noise. Some have called the Prop 65 limit strict when compared to limits set by the FDA, WHO and other acronyms and Soylent themselves points out that their heavy metal levels are comparable to those found in some fish and wine. However, most people do not have salmon and pinot three times a day for the rest of their lives, which is certainly Soylent's intended pattern of use.
Furthermore, do you really want to be asking the question "how much arsenic is too much"? The fact that Soylent has not addressed any of these disparities or even just stopped putting so much fucking lead in their food, and in fact has actually been fighting for their right to do so despite Soylent being a completely made-up, artificial product that they can change arbitrarily anyway should perhaps tell potential customers something about how much value Soylent actually places on their lives.
“”Imagine a meal made of the milk left in the bottom of a bowl of cut-rate cereal, the liquid thickened with sweepings from the floor of a health food store, and you have some sense of what it is like to consume the protein-packed shakes…
|—Sam Sifton, New York Times food editor|
“”It has a taste like grit… To anyone's who's going to try this on a regular basis… see a doctor first.
|—Dr. Ira Breite, gasteroenterologist|
“”…kind of dull, like smelling cardboard… There's no way any normal person would really want to drink that… If this was the only thing on Earth to survive, then what's the point of living, frankly?
|—Michael Madrigale, sommelier|
“”This is sort of what I always imagined Ensure® would taste like… Not worse than… [couldn't name anything].
|—Julia Moskin, dining reporter|
- It is not people.[citation NOT needed]
- Soylent version 1.4 ingredients: High oleic sunflower oil, rice protein, oat flour, isomaltulose, vitamin and mineral blend [potassium (as potassium gluconate), calcium (as calcium carbonate), choline bitartrate, magnesium (as magnesium oxide), vitamin C (as ascorbic acid), zinc (as zinc sulfate), vitamin E (as dl-alpha-tocopheryl acetate), vitamin B3 (as niacinamide), copper (as copper gluconate), vitamin B5 (as calcium d-pantothenate), manganese (as manganese sulfate), vitamin B6 (as pyridoxine.HCl), vitamin B2 (as riboflavin), vitamin B1 (as thiamin.HCl), vitamin A (as palmitate), chromium (as chromium chloride), folic acid, biotin, iodine (as potassium iodide), molybdenum (as sodium molybdate), selenium (as sodium selenite), vitamin K1 (as phytonadione), vitamin D2 (as ergocalciferol), vitamin B12 (as cyanocobalamin)], rice starch, modified food starch, soy lecithin, cellulose, salt, flaxseed and safflower oil powder, docosahexaenoic acid from algal oil), xanthan gum, sucralose.
- The New York Times, The Soylent Revolution Will Not Be Pleasurable
- Soylent Approach to Nutrition
- About Soylent
- Hutchinson, Lee (29 January 2014). "Soylent gets tested, scores a surprisingly wholesome nutritional label". Ars Technica. http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2014/01/soylent-gets-tested-scores-a-surprisingly-wholesome-nutritional-label/. Retrieved 11 June 2015. "However, the results of the nutrition testing done to gain the label have established that Soylent meets the Food and Drug Administration's standards for a whole raft of healthy claims: "Everything from reduced risk of heart disease and some cancers to absence of tooth decay," said Rhinehart. Based on the testing, he explained, Soylent can make many of the health and nutrient claims that the FDA tracks."
- Kilocalories, if you're British or pedantic.
- I.e., male
- My 5.5 Months on Soylent: The Joys of Not Cooking
- Soylent: What Happened When I Stopped Eating For 2 Weeks
- Liquid Diets and the Effect on Your Teeth 03 Feb, 2014, Plainfield Dental Care
- If Everything Is A Threat, Then Nothing Is by Tim Cushing (Fri, Apr 26th 2013 7:39pm) techdirt.
- The Taste That Doesn’t Really Satisfy by Sam Sifton (MAY 24, 2015) New York Times.
- Taste Test: Could Soylent Replace Food? by Sofia Perpetua and Chris Cascarano (May. 29, 2014 | 3:18) New York Times.
- Soylent 1.4