There’s a new craze spreading around the tech industry, and its name is Soylent. Not to be confused with the cannibalistic wafers in the 1970s science-fiction film, this version is based on various vegan sources and is designed to meet every nutritional requirement the human body has.
Engineered by a software developer in the Silicon Valley, Soylent is supposed to be able to stand as a food replacement (either in part or in whole), working with the intention of removing the day-to-day hassle of prepping meals in a healthy and sustainable way. So the big question is, does this actually work?
In terms of prepping meals and the overall cost of Soylent, it’s a fantastic resource. Depending on which version you get (either the liquid pre-made version, or just the powder), the overall cost of eating a 2,000 calorie diet is around $10 CAD per day. Meal preparation time is at most three minutes — pour the powder into a container, pour twice as much water into the container, give it a good shake (or a whirl in a blender) and either enjoy, or store in the fridge so it has a chance to thicken up a bit. As for what it’s actually like, the best comparison for both versions (in terms of taste and texture) would be pancake batter; since there are various flours in the recipe, it tends to be the most accurate and common description.
Of course, this still leaves the question, is it healthy? This is difficult to answer accurately. As we learn more about the human body and its nutritional needs, we are constantly discovering new nutrients that are essential for biological functions. By cutting out the variability in our diets, there is the risk that one of these nutrients will be missing for a long duration of time, which could have less than desirable implications (e.g. scurvy) on your overall health.
One thing for sure is that there really are varying degrees of “healthy.” If your current diet consists of Twinkies with a side of Coke (diet or not), then yes, this would definitely be a step in the right direction, at the least. There have actually been a few instances where people have experimented with a Soylent-only diet for 30 days, and found that upon their return to eating normally they were able to make healthier choices, as they had broken the sugar-craving cycle that so many of us are afflicted by.
However, if your current diet is based on fresh fruit, veggies, and an overall lack of anything processed, then really, Soylent may not be the solution for you. In this case, should you want the time-saving aspect of the product, you would be better off creating your own version of Soylent, and (unlike most companies), this is actually something that Soylent themselves support through a large DIY community on their website.
Of course, when all is said and done, perhaps you are perfectly happy eating actual food and have no desire to switch to this Matrix-esque solution. As in all cases, everyone is different, and what works for someone else may not necessarily work for you. So you do you, keep healthy, and for whichever path you choose, bon appétit!