July 13, 2013

Soylent Not-Green is made of Not-People

Trying an advanced meal replacement shake. So far, Soylent = Best thing EVER.

Ever felt like food is just too much of a hassle? It seems like food is either easy or healthy. There might be a small overlap if you've got the money for it, I suppose. But is that not just another resource to expend in place of direct effort?

That's my opinion. Sure, there are times when a meal is delicious and fulfilling and an absolute delight in my day, but those are few and far between. Most of the time I don't care to seek out good food, I just reach out blindly for something to shut up my cravings or hunger signals, and let me plod along unhindered for another half a day. Hungry me cares about nothing but loading up on sugar, protein, and salt as fast as humanly possible. Pausing to think about something as banal as nutrition and long-term health concerns? Laughable. It's still necessary, I'm just in no state of mind to do it.

Figuring out what to eat is by and large an evil that I'm forced to contend with. I've known for some time now that planning for nutrition must happen ahead of time or it won't happen at all. I've been failing for most of that time too. I've failed miserably to successfully batch-plan meals, let alone batch-plan balanced ones. In a way, I'm lucky I even thought to have a jar of chocolates on my desk for buying coworker affection: I at least have something to get me through the day.

About a month ago, though, someone at a meetup mentioned something in passing that caught my interest. A guy named Rob Rhinehart had apparently been having similar frustrations, and decided, "Screw this diet thing, I'm just going to take the basic food constituents (protein, carbs, vitamins, minerals, etc.) and blend them all into a single shake." Which he then decided to call Soylent, because this guy has an excellent sense of humour, and he shared his experience in eliminating food from his diet on his blog.

I'm reminded of the brief spark of interest I had in intravenous nutrition back when I was studying to be a Pharmacy Technician. "Wouldn't that be convenient?" I thought, right before I remembered that that would involve needles and read on to find out there were issues with blood toxicity anyways.

Frankly, I'm surprised someone hasn't done this sooner. Or, alternatively, that I haven't run into more popular accounts of people trying this. Maybe I just don't run in the right circles. It's not like we don't already have protein shakes, and meal replacement bars, and metamucil, and V8, and vitamins, and dietary supplements up the wazoo. There probably are people who effectively subsist on milkshakes and/or coffee for weeks at a time, we might as well make it explicit and shoot for the most balanced version we can.

I finally got fed up with cooking enough to give it a shot. I bought everything on Amazon and started just last night with half the Poor Man's Recipe plus a dash of half and half. It was weird tasting. The vitamin juice adds an odd undertone to the chocolate protein mix. It was on the edge of my picky requirements for tolerableness, which in itself kept me drinking it as I kept trying to figure out whether it was actually tolerable or not. My stomach wasn't quite sure what to make of it. If it could talk, I'm sure it would have shouted "WHAT ARE YOU DOING WOMAN?!?"

I felt.. sorta sloshy. Sorta overfull too? I don't know how to describe it. It didn't settle for a long while, but I'm not totally surprised given the concentration of slow carbs and nutrients in comparison to my usual food. That feeling of not-quite settling was alarming, because that usually indicates upcoming nausea or vomiting. (Though ocassionally it only indicates gas.) It never progressed beyond the weird feeling, thankfully.

Other than that, I felt great! Like I could take on the world! If this is what people who have nutritionally balanced diets always feel like, I sorely regret not taking this area of life more seriously. I feel more present, sounds seem louder, and I feel the need to move and do. The energy was so atypical for me that, in combination with the stomach weirdness, I was mildly paranoid that I'd overdosed on potassium or something despite my carefulness and was about to go into a fit and die.

This paranoia was not helped by staying up till 10, waking up at 3, and still feeling absurdly energetic. (Albeit a little hungry for more.)


  1. I'm very interested to hear more about your experiences with this over time. Has the nausea faded? Have you tweaked the recipe? Does the mixture "keep" or do you have to mix a new batch every day? How do you transport it (ie, does it have to be refrigerated)? Are you sick of it yet and longing for food? Gained or lost weight? Still have energy? Developed any ticks or twitches? How likely is it that you will keep it up? etc etc, any observations you may have.

  2. I'm quite interested in this as well. When I've made big sudden changes to my diet, I've found that a sudden burst of awesome is followed a few days later by wanting to chew my arm off for sustenance or feeling subjectively worse than I recall feeling before starting. I try to keep in mind that I either need to eat more (cost cutting while trying to eat expensive food is hard :P) or that its a bump in the road while my body adjusts to the wild change in diet, and that I'll adjust. I never make it through to figure out if that's right though. Living with a pile of people who keep the pantries stocked with snacks and junk makes it hard to stay on track.

    With that said, have you noticed any difficulty with preparing your shake, or enjoying your shake, in the presence of other people enjoying pizza or other generally-tasty-but-not-necessarily-healthy foods?

    This is interesting stuff! Thank you for sharing :)


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