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A Week With Soylent

When I heard about Soylent, the food replacement product, my first inclination was to think of the many over-the-counter products (such as Ensure), and not the namesake movie. Given this was created by entrepreneur Rob Rhinehart, I was quite intrigued. It was clear that he was working on something to replace the need for food altogether. That’s an audacious idea, so I had to try it. What follows is some of my experiences with the product.

Since this is not yet available in Canada, I had to look to friends to help me acquire a week’s worth of the product. I didn’t plan to do any serious physical activity during this process and am not sure my schedule will be consistent enough, but I’m excited to try. I also won’t be doing weight or blood tests (as others have done). Given the possible incompleteness, it made sense to focus on relating my feeling while (and after) taking Soylent. Also, once this is all finished, I’ll let you know if I would continue taking Soylent.

Day 1

Getting it first in mobile location, I grabbed some lukewarm spring water and made a batch right in the provided pitcher immediately. I wasn’t sure if I’d keep all this, so I try mixing it and drinking. And, it was pretty good. The first taste to hit me was a grainy band (almost cardboard) and chalky taste. It’s not a sweet or appealing taste, but it’s also not a taste that should turn you off. I think of metaphorically like mushrooms (not the magic kind). The taste is bland, but the texture and look make it consumable.

For the rest of the day, I would let my body get used to this. I felt ok, if not for the constant farting. Soylent (at first at least), made me fart like crazy. This would probably be very embarrassing if I were around more people.

Day 2

Looking forward to trying Soylent for the entire day (without food), I made a full batch and placed it in the fridge. Since the directions recommended chilling, this was going to be my first time with it cold. For breakfast, instead of solid food, I had a serving of Soylent. It tasted much better cold. I was already thinking about what else I might be able to add to this (like chocolate power) for an improved taste.

I placed the cold Soylent in a portable insulated container and left for the day planning to only consume this (and possibly coffee). While working, I felt a sense of well being and generally was able to maintain focus all day. It was nice to feel alert for this time.

Today the farts were lessoned. My daily stool (yes, gross) was firm and seemed good. I expect it to be liquid and change colour. I wondered when that would happen. Over the day I consumed a number of coffees, a bagel, a roasted potato and felt like I could have avoided this solid food. I did it for the sake of eating, and possibly to slowly switch myself to Soylent over the week.

Day 3

Today I woke up a little different. It might have been more like when I woke up I was awake and less groggy. It’s hard to say if Soylent was the reason why. After waking, I went to the fridge and had a helping of Soylent (in a coffee cup) and then drank my morning coffee.

The day was brisk and I reverted to a sandwich for lunch. By dinner time, I was again back to taking Soylent. While drinking, I recalled thinking “Should I measure this?”, and “Why is it so bland?”. I wouldn’t answer either thought before the day was done.

Day 4

Things start to go off the rails here. It’s hard to say if I was getting bored with the blandness of Soylent, of if I craved the more interesting flavours of solid foods. Today I only had the Soylent mix in the morning for breakfast.

What would happen next was a combination of erratic work schedule and possibly disinterest, but I would be only using Soylent in the mornings. After doing this for a few days (and making a new batch), I would be called away for a multi-day project. When I returned, the mixture appeared to be bad so I wasted that. Given I had very little left, I’d use the product sporadically in the mornings for the next few days until it was all finished.

This is perhaps the bigger challenge with Soylent: How do you maintain the discipline to stick with it? I had thought that since it was liquid, I’d have an easy time by making it portable, but I found that difficult to maintain (for whatever reason).

I’m still intrigued by this. When Soylent does enter the Canadian market, I will give it another try. During the four days using it, I felt like it was possible to maintain this as my full diet. Soylent also offers help for those looking to make the product themselves.