Seven days of Soylent
What is it?
Soylent is an all-in-one food replacement drink. Not meal replacement, but a food replacement. Creator Rob Rhinehart promises it contains all the essential nutrients the body needs to keep going. He argued that it doesn’t contain the fruits and vegetables we need, but vitamins and minerals. We don’t need bread — we need carbs. We don’t need to drink milk — our body needs amino acids. Everything that our body needs has been combined into this easy-to-consume drink that will deliver the nutrients that the body needs. Their website boasts three main characteristics: healthy, easy and affordable.
What’s the point?
In an interview with Vice news, Rhinehart said, “eating to me is a leisure activity, like going to the movies, but I don’t want to go to the movies three times a day.”
Many people have taken to the Soylent lifestyle for time saving and seem to love the mindlessness and ease that comes with a Soylent-only diet. They also claim that it greatly improves their lives.
Is it actually good for you?
The argument about whether Soylent is healthy can come down to the argument around genetically modified organisms. If you are of the opinion that natural food is the best food, or that only organic food is really healthy, then no, Soylent would not fall under the category of a “healthy food.” The folks over at Rosa Labs think that GMOs are a good thing. If you agree that genetically modifying something doesn’t necessarily mean that it lowers the quality, then GMOs aren’t necessarily bad.
“If you’re looking at immediate ill effects, I don’t think you’re going to see anything in one day, but long-term over generations,” Caroline Valeriote, a registered dietician at Wilfrid Laurier University said when it comes to GMOs.
When it comes to whether or not Soylent would have long-term effects, “you’d have to pretty well have a huge spectrum of measurement tools done before and then tests after to know exactly,” explained Valeriote.
Why would I go a week without food?
When I first placed my order for Soylent, my intention was not to go on a Soylent only diet for seven days. I just thought that this miracle meal powder might be a good thing to have around in the event of a tight schedule or the need for a quick meal. Only when I learned that people actually live on Soylent did the idea of trying the same hit me. Since things are most fun when pushed to the extreme, I decided to commit to a week of nothing but Soylent, water and black coffee.
Day 1 (beginning on Saturday):
I was feeling very optimistic about the taste, but when I took my first sip, my mouth was less than pleased. It tasted very much like it smells — pancake batter. It was gritty, hard to get down and overall pretty gross. A few more gulps and that’s meal one. I could feel the Soylent sitting in my stomach for 10 –15 minutes before finally settling down.
Throughout the day, I continued to reluctantly consume my servings of Soylent. I came to the realization that the only way I’d to be able to get my meals down would be by using the “plug and chug” method. This worked great for lunch, however dinner left me with a pretty strong gag reflex and I actually almost yacked. My first pitcher of Soylent was so big that by 10 p.m. I still had half a litre of Soylent left. I managed to get it down, but barely.
Day two’s mix contained a lot less water — my thinking was that I could drink smaller, thicker portions, getting my meals in, but having less liquid to consume.
My roommate made pancakes for breakfast, and never have pancakes been less appealing in my whole life. For the first time in the first 36 hours, I wasn’t jealous of what my roommate was eating.
Breakfast wasn’t too bad. I was able to get it down with the old plug and chug. I filled my Sunday with a game of squash versus my roommate and the usual routine of schoolwork. The all-Soylent diet seemed to be working as I won my first game in months. Whether it was the Soylent giving me energy or my mind playing tricks on me, something was working.
I had an extra spring in my step and felt healthier overall. My stomach was no longer gurgling like the witch’s brew which definitely contributed to my positive attitude.
Before I went to bed I made my mix for day three — I chose around the same Soylent-to-water ratio as for day two.
On day three, I had school and work. I was no longer in the comfort of my own home where my rancid farts were contained. I had to venture out into the real world, where I would remain until my diet of Soylent-only meals concluded.
This is the first day that I had Soylent while on a schedule. Now, I have class, work and other responsibilities — time for Soylent to really shine.
Monday was a good day. Soylent left me feeling full with lots of energy. It was continuing to get easier to drink, and the only remaining side effect — at least obvious side effect — was my nuclear level gas.
Day four was a very similar experience to day three. Another day filled with class and other day-to-day activities. This included a trip to The Cord office where my colleagues tried out the drink as well. Some of them felt it tasted pretty neutral, even pleasant, while others agreed with me that it wasn’t the greatest flavour.
Day five was the hardest. I had a glass and headed to class. After my morning class I was feeling pretty run down and was actually avoiding my next meal. I avoided Soylent all day because I was getting so sick of the texture.
Day six was much easier than day five. With a busy schedule, Soylent is more of a convenience rather than just something I’m doing. Thursday was filled with class and work. I didn’t have too much trouble getting anything down. I did actually have to take a pepto-bismol before my finance class, but in fairness, finance gives me a queasy stomach on a good day, so I’m not sure I’d blame that completely on Soylent.
I had fun making my final mixture and really anticipated my final day.
On my final day I kept a pretty busy schedule to keep it as painless and fun as possible. Day seven was more similar to day three or four, where Soylent wasn’t so bad at all. After my final glass of Soylent I waited an hour before enjoying an extremely flavourful beer, followed by a bacon grilled cheese at exactly 12:02 a.m.
All in all, it was an interesting week. Would I ever drink Soylent again? I’ve actually already ordered some more. However, I will probably never do more than one meal a day and only in a pinch when Soylent would serve as a cheaper, healthier alternative to fast food.
From my experience, Soylent is best served as a simple meal replacement, rather than a complete food replacement.