I imagine that for decades everyone from space aficionados to science fiction fans have envisioned a time where everything your body needs is supplied in one delicious beverage. No shopping for hours on end every week. No chicken breasts to over cook and consume with a defeated mindset. No smoke detectors going off after broiling your potato gratin to black ash. No pile of dishes to make your offspring complete. One beverage. Everything you need. Done and done.
Depending on who you are, the whole idea of complete nutrition without chewing food might sound to good to be true….or just to weird to be accepted. I fall somewhere in the middle category, because while I love food, I totally understand that the average person doesn’t share the same deep affection food that I do. Nor does everyone even have access to cheap, nutritious food like we do in most of Canada. This is where Soylent comes in.
Soylent received a lot of buzz a few years back when they had a very successful, crowed source Tilt campaign. Unfortunately, those of us north of the border couldn’t get our hands on the stuff until just recently. Effective June 15, the borders were opened and Soylent was on it’s way. Canadian customers will receive Soylent 1.5, the recently announced sixth iteration of the Company’s engineered staple food.
Tell me more about this Soylent product you say…
• Soylent is an engineered staple food designed to provide maximum nutrition with minimal effort. Its nutritional makeup is comprehensive and includes protein, carbohydrates, fats, fiber, and vitamins and minerals such as potassium, iron, and calcium.
• Soylent contains all of the elements of a healthy diet, with limited contribution from less desirable components such as sugars, saturated fats, or cholesterol.
• Soylent has a neutral taste profile by design. This gives people the ability to easily adjust Soylent flavoring based on their personal taste preferences.
• The Soylent recipe is based on the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and is approved as a food by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
• The list of ingredients includes oat flour, rice protein, omega 3 fatty acids. Our customized micronutrient blend provides essential nutrients like vitamin D and folate, and electrolytes such as potassium.
• Comprehensive Nutritional Profile: http://files.soylent.com/pdf/soylent-nutrition-facts.pdf
• As of November 2014, Soylent is 100% animal-free and no longer uses fish oil as a source of omega 3 fatty acids. These essential nutrients are now provided by algal oil, which results in a formula produced with increased efficiency and without the use of animal products as nutritional middlemen.
• Soylent works closely with Dr. F. Xavier Pi-Sunyer, M.D. as a company advisor. Pi-Sunyer is professor of medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. At St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center he serves as chief of endocrinology, diabetes, and nutrition, and is director of the New York Obesity Research Center. Dr. Pi-Sunyer is also a senior attending physician at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital and New York-Presbyterian Hospital.
Soylent was kind enough to send me a weeks worth of food, which is 7 packets. Each packet is good for one full day and provides you with 2000 calories. They suggest you have 500 calorie meals, thus consuming 4 drinks throughout the day. For ease of dispensing, Soylent also provides a nice metal scoop and a jug to mix up the entire packet. Besides a case of the Soylent farts, I’ve heard two common situations from those who are sharing their thoughts online and they both revolve around feeling sluggish and suffering from fatigue. Thankfully, many have found out that they are slightly dehydrated and an increase in water intake turns this around. Just because you consume Soylent as a liquid, doesn’t mean you should decrease your daily servings of water. The other factor in reliving fatigue seems to be increasing the amount of Soylent you consume earlier in the day and leaving a smaller portion for the evening. This gives you a chance to have a higher caloric load when the average person needs it most.
The first thing I noticed was the smell. Opening the bag was actually rather inviting. There was this yeasty, batter smell that remind me of a sweet pancake batter. It was very pleasing and I had high hopes for something most people don’t necessarily enjoy consuming. Thankfully, version 1.5 has done away from including oils alongside the packaging and you now have everything you need in the powder. Mixing my first Soylent meal was easy enough and it dissolved with my lazy fork stirring method. Naturally, spinning it for a few seconds in my blender gave an even better result. My first mouthful was something other than ‘neutral taste profile’ they suggest. In fact, it was more along the lines of rotten onions. Not exactly a pleasant first taste and I didn’t do myself any favours by consuming a rather large mouthful. The taste profile slowed down my normal habit of consuming beverages with unneeded haste and my first few meals likely took close to 20 minutes. This is significantly slower than I normally drink, if you ask anyone close to me.
Thankfully as I started to include this in my diet, the rotten onion flavour left and turned into a kind of wet cracker paste taste. After enough of it, Soylent actually became kind of comforting and I found myself enjoying it more than I ever thought I would. Now I know the point of Soylent is to cut out food but I found myself mixing it with frozen blueberries or a scope of peanut butter to make it almost, I dare say – delicious. Then again, I happily consume a protein shake everyday and many people don’t even enjoy those. I did find myself suffering from fatigue in the first few days and did my best to bump up the caloric load as I’m likely more active than the average American. Also, consuming a bit of fruit in-between drinks made a big difference and one I would be happy to continue with.
At the end of the day I love seeing what small changes in temperature do to an egg as much as I love figuring out the best way to flash freeze a bounty of fresh fruit. I want to deep fry pig intestines for a taco, just as much as I want to dice up an apple for my morning oatmeal. Yet, I’m happy to consume a well-balanced smoothie/shake when I’m in a hurry, low on groceries, or don’t feel up to making a mess. This is where Soylent comes in and I’ll happily keep a small supply in my pantry for days like that as well as keep a keen eye on the changes and developments as Soylent gains market share and public awareness. The team behind Soylent is all about people ‘hacking’ the recipe, so I see it only getting better and better from here.