So, I decided to take the plunge and order Soylent 1.4. This is my review of it.
First, some interesting background. Anyone who has watched the movie Soylent Green is probably thinking the obvious thought right now. Fortunately, Soylent shares nothing in common with the fictional ‘food’ beyond its name. It’s not a wafer, it’s not green, and above all, it’s not made of people. 🙂 Instead, it’s made of a mix of oils, carbs, and proteins, with vitamins and minerals added, designed to be a well-balanced nutritional shake that is designed to stand in as food. It is a creamy-white color liquid with a consistency of a smoothie, with a vaguely flour like smell and a taste that is quite distinctive. The makers claim you can survive on nothing but this without health issues. Whether or not this is true is beyond my level of skill analyzing, but I can tell you, anyone who eats this stuff will quickly appreciate real food in their diet simply because of the taste.
Soylent was made by software developers as a side project to a software project they were working on. Frustrated by how much effort it took to make the food, and the cost of poor-quality food, both on the pocketbook and at the doctor’s office, these developers sat down to design the perfect food, and have been refining their formula ever sense. As they are software developers, it is no surprise that they refer to their updated formulae using version numbers, and Soylent has seen four revisions since it ‘went live’ at version 1.0. Earlier versions of the shake had some…issues, including what has been called the ‘horse-killing fart’, which you can imagine is rather disturbing. This problem took two revisions to solve, and all but disappeared in version 1.3. However, I got in at 1.4, after they solved their supply problems. That will be the version I review.
Ordering Soylent is remarkably easy. Head over to Soylent.me, place your order, cough up to $300, and then wait. It used to be that that wait was a multi-month affair, but Soylent seems to have fixed their ordering problems, and what was a month-long wait is now a week long wait, and within the week, we had four boxes of brand-new soylent mix. The items were shipped to us in a giant, heavy box, so that may be an issue for you, but once the box was opened, a stack of smaller boxes, each with a week’s supply of 7 bags of Soylent, plus a box containing measuring implements, ended up stacked in our kitchen. A relatively painless process, costing about as much as you’d pay for a month of food, ready to be mixed with water. And this leads to the next part, preparation.
To prepare Soylent is as simple as emptying a bag of the stuff into the stylized pitcher, adding enough water to fill it to the top, and then shaking it up real good. This is a drawn out process and an excellent arm workout. Alternatively, you can just pour the stuff in your handy blender and then add water, and let the mains do all the work. End result? A beige concoction that smells strongly of flour. Previous versions of Soylent depended on a vial of liquid oil to add the necessary lipids for a balanced diet, but they managed to package the oil in the powder this time, eliminating the need to have both a powder and an oil vial. This vastly simplifies the process of making the Soylent, especially if you are making sub-day portions.
Now that we’ve talked about ordering and making the stuff, let’s talk eating the stuff. The first time I made the Soylent, I did so exactly by the instructions. What I got was a barely tolerable concoction that had a strong taste going down, and left a strong after-taste. I’d describe it as oily and pungeant, and others have pointed to the sunflower oil as the culprit. Initially, it has a gritty taste, but as the oils dissolve into the drink, the grit is replaced by an oily aftertaste. Regardless, you need a nice bottle of water handy.
So, I quickly hit the internet to find out what other people were doing. The answer seems to be the peanut butter or banana smoothie — add in PB or Bananas and blend the stuff together. This makes the Soylent lose much of its taste, and be easier on the aftertaste as well. Peanut butter seems to work well for this, so that’s what I’ve been using.
Soylent has been a good replacement for the unhealthy quick food that plagues the American diet. It gives decent levels in Vitamins and Minerals that are hard to get in most diets. It is not perfect (obviously, the perfect diet is a well balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other wholesome foods), but for someone who can’t afford the time to fix his own meals, this is a better replacement than McDonalds. I’ve noticed my energy levels to be healthier than eating out, and while it’s too early to know what this stuff’s health impact is, I have noticed a slow decrease in weight. Where 1000 calories of SlimFast left me a wastrel by the end of the workday, 1000 calories Soylent leaves me feeling energized. Instead of binging a 1000 to 1500 calorie dinner, I feel much better on 600 to 900 calories of dinner on Soylent. I don’t feel dead at the end of the day, which is good.
I’ll update as I can.