Food for Futurists: A Review of Soylent

A Bit of Backstory

Eating a cheap nutritious meal for lunch has never been an easy task, as a student. There must either be a compromise on the side of frugality, or on the side of nutrition. After too many meals consisting only of pizza, burritos or donburis, I decided to try soylent.

What is Soylent? 

A meal replacement powder which replaces the glorious experience of eating with a bland brownish coloured sludge. I know, why would anyone want to eat something from a dystopian sci-fi movie?

Image from http://www.buyswithfriends.com/i-tried-a-soylent-only-diet-heres-how-it-went/

Here’s My Experience

It was late one night after I had skipped lunch that I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be great if I could just bring some powder, mix it with water and have that for lunch. After receiving the order a few days later, I was eager to try it the next day, packing it in a ziplock bag and filling up my bottle with ice, with some vague thoughts that the ice would help mix the drink. At lunch time, I went outside next to the water fountain and pulled out my ziplock bag. Only then did I realise how difficult it is to transfer powder into a bottle without a funnel. The wind was threatening to blow the powder everywhere and I had no way to measure the amount of water I was putting in. The chunky, watery mess that resulted was every bit as bad as you might imagine, and I quickly resolved to never do that again. So, the next day I mixed the drink in a blender at home before bringing it to uni. The consistency was much smoother, and also thicker.
Now, we reach the most important aspect: the taste. On first impression, it tastes much blander than I expected, and much less sweet than most protein powders. The chocolate is subtle and there’s a slight saltiness also, most likely an inclusion to meet the claim that it’s 'nutritionally complete'. The taste was not repulsive, and I got through the drink fairly quickly. Some water is needed to wash it down afterwards though, as it is quite thick and you want to wash out your mouth a little. Taste aside, the drink was able to keep me filled until the next meal, quite unlike my previous food hack of countless muesli bars.
Meal replacement powders have never been a new concept. But in 2013, “Soylent” was launched in a kick-starter campaign, targeting a new market: the time-starved tech junkies. The biggest difference from other weight loss meal replacement powders is that it claims to be nutritionally complete. Many similar companies have opened up in other countries and the one I found was called OzSoylent. The powder comes in day packs with four 120g servings, with each serving giving you 2041Kj.

Conclusion

I found soylent to be very filling and a great way to power through a big day where you can’t afford the post-meal energy slump. However, I definitely wouldn’t use it as a complete meal replacement, given how much I like food. But as a quick, cheap and arguably healthy meal, it does the job.
Photos from:
http://www.buyswithfriends.com/i-tried-a-soylent-only-diet-heres-how-it-went/
https://www.soylent.com/

BY Jack Zheng

Melbourne University Electrical Engineering Club

2017

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