“You’re doing what? Don’t you miss food? Are you going to die?”
My name is Blaise, this is my first year off the Macalester meal plan, and I’m surviving primarily off of Soylent.
What is Soylent? At its core, it’s a complete meal replacement shake that you drink instead of eating food. There are many inefficiencies in the ways we eat, and Soylent can eliminate some of them. We often eat too much, waste what we don’t eat, and feel guilty eating foods we know are damaging to our bodies. One of the many catch phrases on the Soylent website is: “Everything you need, nothing you don’t.” That concept captures the purpose and motivations behind Soylent’s creation. My own motivations? Well, that’s a different story.
Personally, I wanted to try Soylent for fun. For me, this is a wild experiment. Can people really survive on a liquid diet? Does it really fill you up the way that normal food does? What’s the inherent difference between digesting solid food and liquid food?
Setting aside many of my learned beliefs about food, Soylent seems like a naturally better option. It fulfills all of my needed calories for the day, it ensures that I have a complete and balanced diet, and it prevents me from overeating. It might not compare to the taste of Topperstix, but it tastes substantially better than I expected. With a few tweaks of my own, my Soylent tastes pretty good.
Making my Soylent
Most people that try Soylent use the premixed bags that the company provides. You order your complete nutrition powder and it will arrive in the mail, prepackaged and ready to mix with water. Trying to go for an even more cost-efficient approach, I decided to make my own version of Soylent.
I was surprised to find that there is a DIY page linked from the official Soylent website. There, I was able to browse through user-created recipes attached to a nutrition calculator to ensure that the ingredients you’re putting in really do add up to your complete nutrition for a given day.
After finding the best recipe for me, (which was admittedly the most popular and most recently updated post) I set off to order my ingredients online.
Most noteworthy among them are my 50 pound bag of oat flour and my 50 pound bag of 34% whey protein isolate, but those are certainly not the most important parts of my diet.
The mixture of various powders only gets my nutrition profile so far and isn’t complete without various vitamins and supplements, which I’ve learned are essential.
It took a while to get used to, but with my DIY recipe and my own little tweaks, my cost for a full day of Soylent hangs at about $2.50.
Along with its low cost, Soylent takes very little time to make. I can measure out and produce a full day of Soylent in about 10 minutes. That’s not to mention how much time I save consuming it. I used to spend 45 minutes on average per meal in Cafe Mac, but now my meal time and social time are separate.
Is food social?
At this point in my Soylent plan, I will eat any free food on campus and Soylent for every other meal. This keeps my mealtimes quick, often with little to no preparation or cleanup. Often, I’m only cleaning the containers that hold my day of Soylent and my current Soylent 500 calorie meal.
I’ve also noticed that I end up drinking Soylent while doing other things, cutting out the entire aspect of sitting down to eat. Because of that, the social aspect of my meals tends to be completely absent. Food has never really held a serious ritual position in my life, but drinking Soylent has certainly shifted my habits from my usual social hour
sit downs in Cafe Mac to a couple of minutes of chugging a bottle of Soylent between classes or while walking between meetings. Of course, the social aspect comes back whenever I find free meals around campus.
The aspect of temporary meal communities, comprising mostly people you don’t know or are tangentially associated with, has really expanded my social sphere. Instead of sitting down for meals with the same group of people every day, I tend to eat with new friends and acquaintances.
Keeping a balance of Soylent and solid food satisfies me and my social life, unlike most of the people whose reviews I’ve read and watched. My experience has been and continues to be truly positive.
Soylent: a good alternative
I started drinking my DIY Soylent on September 1, 2015, and after three weeks, I feel pretty much the same as I always have. I don’t think it’s been long enough to see any long-term effects of this unconventional diet, but from what I can tell so far, I haven’t gained or lost any weight, nor has my health changed.
I’ve found the answers to many of my initial questions: yes, Soylent does fill you up like normal food. Yes, you can be healthy on Soylent. And no, I’m not dead. I’ve learned a lot of little quirks about nutrition, like the necessity of vitamin K. Turns out, if I forget to take my vitamin K pills enough days in a row, my blood won’t clot. On the days that I keep to my regimen of Soylent and assorted vitamins and supplements, I’m quite healthy.
Learning to keep myself committed to every piece of my diet is a new thing for me. I used to just eat whatever my parents (or Café Mac) putinfrontofmeandnotgiveita second thought. Expecting Soylent at every meal has lost its weirdness, and now seems like a normal part of my day, but it’s definitely helped me appreciate all of the care that my parents put into feeding me for so many years.
Many of my friends believe that my transition to Soylent is a way of avoiding growing up, but I’ve learned more about my independence in these past three weeks than I think I would have if I were cooking for myself. I appreciate now more than ever the effort that my parents have put in to nourish me throughout my life. So far, Soylent has been a great alternative to preparing my own meals, and I see no reason to stop. My supply of ingredients will last me until the end of the semester and possibly even throughout the school year. Someday I’ll have the time and motivation to really develop my own cooking skills, but for now, I’m satisfied with my Soylent.