Soylent, day to day

Ever since I backed Soylent on Kickstarter, I've been a little obsessed with the stuff. Well, "obsessed" might not be the right word... "consumed" might be a better. "Evangelical" has been tossed around. Seriously, a day does not go by when I do not attempt to bring some poor soul into fold. If someone asks what biege slurry I'm gulping down, I launch into a full scale attack to win the hearts and minds of "fooders" and turn them into "Soylentarians."

What's in it?

Mostly sugar. Maltodextrin to be specific. Sugars are molecules in the form of a chain. Shorter chains are the sugars you are most familiar with. Table sugar, HFC's glucose, sucrose and fructose fall into this category. Long chains are your breads, pastas and rice- all the starches. Maltodextrin is "medium" length, so it doesn't taste very sweet. Your body "burns" these sugars more slowly than candy-sugar but faster than pasta-sugar. Next comes oats and brown rice flour. These provide your protein and fiber. Everything else is your vitamins and minerals. Lastly, don't forget the oils! We need oil in our diet and every daily allotment of Soylent includes a vial of oil.

Strangely, Soylent is missing 100% a crucial ingredient- salt!. This only matters if you eat Soylent and Soylent alone or you run marathons. Ordinary food, even when supplemented by Soylent, provides more than enough salt. I think they skimped on this to improve the taste.

How do you get it?

Order it online. You can get 1 weeks, 2 weeks or 4 weeks worth of Soylent at a time. If you buy the subscription, you get a discount. If it's your first order, it's going to take a long time. Go complain about it on the forums but it won't do any good. It took me a year and half to get mine! But after your first shipment, latter orders arrive much faster.

How do you make it?

Each daily serving of Soylent is a bag of powder and a vial of oil. Put the powder in the pitcher and add water. Shake until well mixed. Add the oil and shake again. Serve chilled. Each pitcher is 2000 calories- the FDA recommended amount of everything. I divide it up into 2 meals and snack, in 3 of those shaker bottles, so it's not unusual for me to eat nothing but Soylent and coffee.

What's it taste like?

I would not be ungracious if I said Soylent tastes a bit like Play Do. Not in a bad way though. It's slightly sweet but more than anything at all, it's utterly bland. There's a distinct texture which has been described as "silty." I don't find it unpleasant but others do. I don't understand this at all- my best guess is that it's a subconscious bias.

What's it like living on Soylent?

Well, first, I don't live on Soylent alone and I don't recommend anyone try. Living on Soylent alone would be a sad existence. It's also more dangerous than even I dare to tread. Though I consume more than 50% of my food as Soylent, I'm still wary about the long term effects. But more than that, food is good and after eating Soylent for breakfast and lunch, by dinner I want sweet, salty, spicy food! I can't stress this enough. After the blandness of Soylent, "real" food tastes extraordinary. Your taste buds get reset and you can't help but ruminate on your food. The tastes and textures are so much more pronounced, even boring foods like toast are exciting. But our modern foods are absolutely bursting with sugar, salt and fat and with a fresh palette spicy chicken wings, Doritos, chocolate and Dr Pepper will absolutely blow your mind! It's like eating again for the first time.

Another big change is that you have more of your most important resources- time and money. If you were like me, you were spending up to $20 a day on food and over an hour of time shopping, cooking, eating and then cleaning up after. On Soylent, you can make all 3 meals in 60 seconds, for less than 10 bucks. There are days when the dishwasher is full of nothing but the pitcher and shaker bottles.

What are the downsides?

The worst problem is well documented on the forums- Solent Farts. It's advised that you gradually increase your Soylent intake, as to give your gut a chance to adjust. Otherwise you can expect some really explosive gas. "Fart" really is an insufficient term- I had tremendous gas, so much so that it hurt my abdomen digesting Soylent. GasX and Beano are prescribed but theres quite a few solutions floating around the forums. Thankfully, these symptoms subside eventually. I haven't had any gas at all after v1.3 but your mileage may vary.

Another problem is one of will power. Like I said, Soylent makes you appreciate the sensation of eating real food. Soylent nourishes the body but not the soul. If your not careful, you will find yourself walking out of the grocery store with a pint of ice cream, spicy Doritos and soda cause it tastes that darn good. And you'll find it easier to rationalize to yourself, because you ate 2 solid healthy meals. This is alleviated by forcing yourself to cook. The Soylentarian lifestyle affords you much more time, money and energy to devote to real food, when the modd strikes you. Use your newfound resources to learn to cook again. At my house, we have 5 roommates but we try to eat dinner together. It's an important human ritual, one I didn't appreciate until it was gone. Cooking can be fun and rewarding. Eating can be an aesthetic experience. Both should be social opportunities.

Lastly, you will run into anti-Soylentarians. There's a lot of them in Portland and I'm sure you know the type. Nutrition-istas and Food Babes everywhere will grimace with horror as you down your Soylent. Just smile back and direct them to the forums, where all manner of nutritional arguments are held.