The above photo is of my typical breakfast on a school day: A peanut butter and jam toasted sandwich, a cup of coffee, and a big bottle of water. The sandwich is bagged, because I make it the night before, and if I can’t get ready fast enough in the morning, I eat it one-handed in my car on the hour-long commute to school. Even if I have time to scarf it down at home, the water bottle at least needs to be shotgunned while my car is in-motion. Only the coffee (I need it to live) is a guaranteed sitter-downer. All so I can get the maximum amount of sleep before my lengthy days, while still having time to roll into my car in time.
This lengthy introduction is meant to demonstrate the temporal gymnastics a busy twenty-something such as myself must go through to wrangle in the necessary meals to not starve. Lunch and dinner go a similar way. While I like my delicious gourmet food as much as the next Italian, I’ve frequently said, that my preferred superpower would be to never have to eat or sleep unless I wanted to. Well, I’ve become fascinated by the idea that there may be a solution to one of those. This isn’t a promotion, and I’ve got no stake in this. Rather, I’m fascinated by what this invention could represent.
It’s called Soylent, and rather than being a diet shake, it’s supposed to replace all your food, ever. It’s a powder and oil that you mix into a thick, chalky shake, and it contains all the nutrition a person needs to survive and thrive, by breaking it down into chemicals and minerals. I first heard of it when a writer on Ars Technica spent a week on the stuff, chronicling his ups and downs in sometimes excruciating detail.
I later read an article by the New Yorker, explaining it in more complex terms. In particular, the New Yorker article highlights that Rob Rinehart, one of the creators, was involved in it specifically because he was resenting being chained to food, and how he was having time, money, and nutrition problems while working to get his tech startup moving.
At the moment, it’s only sold online, $65 for a week’s supply, and I’ve got no idea how or when a Canadian release will happen. However, the creators are open about the ingredients, intending it to be open-source, so there’s nothing stopping you from simply making your own, though it loses the convenience factor for me. It’s essentially still in beta, with Rinehart throwing out ideas for it becoming far more widespread.
Frankly, I’m thrilled, but I’m far from the norm. I’m a very time-conscious person, and I’ve found myself resenting the sheer time-suck of having to put (at least) three meals together. If I come home late from school, which tends to happen, I can’t start my homework without a two hour long meal-suck, or the financial strain of getting something made to order. And I’ve never been a picky eater, so if I can stay at my desk and take sips from a giant shake bottle all day, I don’t really care *how* it tastes, so long as it’s at least inoffensive (the taste has been compared to “liquid cake”). Lee Hutchinson, the writer who went on the stuff for a week, did a followup piece basically outlining this idea, about how to a certain subset of people, reducing food to something simple and quantifiable is a giant relief.
The price is a factor, but I genuinely hope this becomes a thing, as I’d completely buy in, purely for the sake of efficiency.
P.S. Full disclosure, there was a study suggesting the mixture might have long-term problems, but as the linked article reveals, it hasn’t really bee proven yet.