Have you ever wondered, “Gee, what would it be like to never have to eat again?”
Yeah, me neither.
But apparently the question occurred to a 25-year-old guy named Rob Rhinehart, who wanted to escape the hassle of shopping for, preparing, and eating food so he could concentrate on more important things, like working on software and stuff. He started researching the nutritional needs of humans, sent away for the various raw chemical components, and started building the perfect human food.
Ultimately, he came up with a powdered substance that he mixed with water (and in a later iteration, with oil) in a blender, and hey, presto! He had a glassful of something that has been described as a cross between thin pancake batter, cream of wheat, and Metamucil. And then he decided to live on it.
He had invented…(wait for it)…Soylent.
Yes, you read right: just like the 1973 Charlton Heston sci-fi flick, Soylent Green. Except that Rhinehart’s version isn’t actually made of human flesh. Imagine my relief.
Here’s part of his account of his first month living exclusively on Soylent:
I feel like the six million dollar man. My physique has noticeably improved, my skin is clearer, my teeth whiter, my hair thicker and my dandruff gone. My resting heart rate is lower, I haven’t felt the least bit sickly, rare for me this time of year. I’ve had a common skin condition called Keratosis Pilaris since birth. That was gone by day 9. I used to run less than a mile at the gym, now I can run 7. I have more energy than I know what to do with. On day 4 I caught myself balancing on the curb and jumping on and off the sidewalk when crossing the street like I used to do when I was a kid. People gave me strange looks but I just smiled back. Even my scars look better.
My mental performance is also higher. My inbox and to-do list quickly emptied. I ‘get’ new concepts in my reading faster than before and can read my textbooks twice as long without mental fatigue.
Rhinehart is now selling Soylent, in elegantly simple packaging, via a Shopify store (which is only of interest to me since Adrian is one of their ops guys)—apparently you can purchase it via subscription, and it’s selling pretty briskly.
I should be clear that I’ve never tasted Soylent, and I have absolutely nothing against it. While the concept—of creating a food out of chemicals rather than plant and/or animal matter—is interesting, I’m left to wonder what it would be like to simply forego “real” food for the rest of my life, in favour of Metamucil-tinged pancake batter.
To be fair, Rhinehart says he only drinks Soylent most of the time. Every now and then he indulges in “recreational food,” which he says he enjoys all the more because it’s a novelty. Well yeah, no kidding.
I think if I were living on a steady diet of grainy pancake batter, I might look forward to the occasional respite, too.
Fortunately, I don’t have to, because a brave young man from The Guardian has done it for me: here’s his video account of a week on Soylent. His verdict: he was hungry, irritable, and gassy, and couldn’t wait to finish his self-imposed Soylent-only diet. Well, sign me up!
Although I’m not really keen to give it a go, I’m fascinated by the Soylent phenomenon: what would compel some people to decide that acquiring, preparing, and eating food is just simply too much bother? Rhinehart predicts that we’re undergoing a separation between “food as recreation” and “food as utilitarian,” and I can see where he’s coming from.
What do you think? Would you be willing to stop eating food in favour of the convenience of a “meal in a glass”?
Enquiring minds want to know!