About a year ago, I went in on the Soylent kickstarter. If you haven’t heard of Soylent, here is an article about it. I am basically Soylent’s target customer — I’ve been dreaming of a food pill for years. It’s not that I don’t enjoy food. I do. I love eating as much as the next person, but I don’t need to do it multiple times a day every single day for my entire life. It’s not my favorite thing to do. If I were to rank my favorite ways to spend time, eating would come in below reading, watching TV, sleeping, writing, and endless internet browsing. I’d simply far rather spend my free hours doing those things.
Between grocery shopping, food prep, cooking, and cleaning up after cooking, eating takes up an insane amount of time. Most of us get about five free hours a night, and I don’t want to spend essentially two of those preparing for myself soup and sauteed greens, eating them, and cleaning up afterwards. I’d rather take a pill and then on Friday night, go out for a really great dinner. People say to spend Sunday afternoon prepping your meals for the week as if that’s some sort of solution. I have two days off a week; I’m going to spend fully a quarter of that time putting cooked rice in Tupperware?
Also? <possibly offensive rant> All this whole foods shit everyone’s on about lately is just a giant textbook backlash against feminism. It’s so obvious, and it’s happened before. Read your Susan Faludi. Remember, prepared foods were initially invented because women were entering the workforce in mass and unable to spend all their time in domestic drudgery. Now progressive upper-middle-class women — feminists! — are telling each other to spend their prime earning years baking bread from scratch, or their kids will get cancer? Oh, nice try, PATRIARCHY! I almost didn’t spot you there, looking all crunchy! Obesity is a poverty problem, not a nutrition problem. But Americans can’t talk about poverty, and also talking about poverty doesn’t make anyone any money. Talking about nutrition, on the other hand, creates all kinds of opportunity to sell people shit they don’t need. </possibly offensive rant>
Anyway, I can’t really lecture anyone about anything because I once ate nothing but Clif bars for four months straight (and one full meal a week, plus lots of beer, wine, and coffee). I had figured out that I could get 1500 calories from Clif bars, so that ought to be ok, and the majority of the RDA of all the vitamins and stuff you’re supposed to have, but they were way too low in protein. I became extremely thin and haggard-looking and I was furious all the time.
The reason I decided to eat nothing but Clif bars was because I had written the first act of a play that a lot of people really liked. It was the first good thing I’d ever written and everyone was really excited for me to finish it.
This made me want to die, because I was certain that I would fail. I would sit down at my desk every day, and open the Word doc that had the first act of the play in it, and I would shatter into a million tiny fragments of self-hatred and fear. I’ve never felt such fear! But I told myself I was just hungry. I told myself that I just needed to eat breakfast.
So, I’d make toast with butter and jam, and coffee. And then I’d think, well, protein, too, obviously, and I’d make eggs. And then I’d sit down in front of the play again. And then I’d think, well, a banana, and then…to work! And then I’d think, you know, it’s only an hour until lunch. I’m really still pretty hungry, and if I just eat lunch now, then I’ll have all afternoon to fully concentrate.
And then I’d make and eat lunch FOR HOURS. So eventually, I said to myself, look, self, you’re not going to eat anything but Clif bars until you finish this play, so you can just cut this shit out and face it.
And then I finished the play. It took a lot of Clif bars, but I did it. The third act sucked, and I never really dealt with my fears of success, and shortly after that, I quit playwriting and all collaborative artistic creation forever because I just couldn’t handle it, but my artistic struggles aren’t the point of this post.
I have gotten off track. I’m supposed to be talking about food replacement.
Anyway, I was never that crazy again, but I have continued to try to find a suitable meal replacement, and I’ve never had much success. Mostly, I just get so hungry. If I eat carbs, I get ravenous, stomach digesting itself, angry-hungry. If I don’t eat carbs, I get light-headed, can’t focus on anything, really just need to sleep for awhile hungry. But either way, the hunger, it comes. It plunks itself right smack down in the middle of whatever I am doing, and demands to be dealt with right that very minute, like some screaming, endlessly needy, hopelessly inconsiderate infant that never, ever grows up and moves out of the damn house.
So I don’t actually have a lot of hopes for Soylent. My prediction for this week is that even though it’s meant to be a sufficient amount of calories for total meal replacement, I will still get either too hungry or too light-headed or both. I’ve been tracking my calories over the last few months, and I’m currently consuming about 1500-2000 day, depending on if I ran that day or not (I’m much hungrier the day after I run). A pitcher of Soylent is 2000 calories.
I mostly went in for this because I wanted to help demonstrate that there is demand for a food substitute — that people will pay for it. I don’t really think that Rob Rhinehart has created it. But I hope that the level of publicity his project has gotten will encourage other people who know more about nutrition to work harder and faster on developing a viable food replacement.
But since I have the stuff, I’m going to give it a try. I unboxed it tonight, here’s what a week’s supply looks like:
A one-day supply includes a pouch of dry mix, and a small bottle of fish and canola oil. Here’s a close up of the nutrition information, if you are interested (I don’t care).
The powdered mix smells like any powdered protein mix you come across. Maybe a little sweeter. The oil is what I wonder about — fish oil is pretty nasty stuff, not to eat, necessarily, but to burp up after you’ve eaten it. It sort of gives you a fish oil taste in the back of your throat all day, but then, I drink a lot of coffee, so maybe I won’t mind that.
You’re supposed to dump a package in the pitcher they give you and then add filtered water (but I just added tap water, because I am too lazy to refill my Brita filter and I don’t really mind the taste of tap water). Then, you shake it. Then, you dump in the fish oil and shake it some more. I’m very familiar with powdered drink mixes, and they’re usually really hard to shake, but the Soylent seemed to combine really easily. Of course, it’s probably got a bunch of clumps hiding in there that I will discover tomorrow, so I might use a blender after this first time.
And you’re supposed to serve over ice and/or refrigerate it for a night before having any. It will keep for 48 hours, so you’re supposed to drink it all within the day. Here’s the Soylent all ready to go in my fridge (and yes, my fridge always looks like this — have I mentioned I’m Soylent’s target customer?):
Sunday meal prep done! This took maybe fifteen minutes, and that includes washing the pitcher first.
I start tomorrow, and I will let you know how this goes!
P.S. For those of you who have been following this blog from the beginning, check it out, I’m finally doing a blog stunt! And it’s topical even! This is the type of thing that gets people book deals, but I will never get a book deal, because I can’t even write a simple post about unboxing some Soylent without writing over 1000 words that veer off into feminist conspiracy theories and barely relevant admissions of my own bizarre obsessive behaviors. But that’s ok! I am at peace with who I am.