Your food days may soon to be over.

Hot dogs face

I think we can all agree that figuring out what to eat is a pretty time consuming affair. We read recipes, research restaurants, weigh our options and either strategically buy groceries from the store, opting to cook at home or we go out to eat and likely spend too much money.

In our modern world, we are constantly looking for more efficient ways to do everything, including how we eat. This trend has been happening long before the rise of fast food and microwavable meals. More recently, we have seen the increase in meal replacements such as SlimFast, Ensure and an ever-growing array of energy bars.

Jessica Pettway ramen

Now there is the arrival of “Soylent,” an all-in-one nutritionally complete drink theoretically composed of everything that a human needs to survive, including protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, etc. The drink was invented by Rob Rhinehart, a 25 year old Silicon Valley engineer, who found the cost of food to be a burden while working for a cash-strapped tech start-up in California. Out of frustration, Rhinehart researched every nutritional substance the body needs to survive and then ordered it online, blending it together into a chalky, gray shake.

In February 2013, Rhinehart challenged himself to live solely on his concoction for a month and documented his progress on his blog post How I Stopped Eating Food. He said that not only was the drink cheaper and easier, but that it had changed his life, feeling like the “six million dollar man” with “clearer skin, whiter hair and a notably improved physique.” It has now been a year and a half that Rhinehart has been living on the drink which, he says makes up 90% of his diet, arguing that he has never felt better.

Chocolate Brittle

In true hacker fashion, Rhinehart kept the recipe information open-sourced, successfully cultivating a movement of fellow Soylent drinkers. There is now a whole online community trying it out their own versions of Soylent, posting individualized recipes with names such as “ChocolateSilk” and “BacheloretteChow.” And as the idea of a Soylent caught on, the media took notice, allowing Rhinehart to be able to raise two million on Kickstarter to sell his own formula on the market. The first shipments of Rhinehart’s blend went out this spring, with already tens of thousands of orders for his mixture as well as reports that it’s to be tested by the US military.

It’s not hard to see the appeal towards a meal replacement drink like Soylent. On an average day, with all of us being so busy, the thought process that goes into eating can be frustrating. And while meals are great for socializing, in reality most of our meals are unsocial and completely forgettable. A simple and fast, all-in-one staple would make most of our lives much easier.

Salami

But what makes Soylent most interesting is that it seeks to replace food almost completely, as its creator Rhinehart became so popular doing. Rather than catering to the elderly or body-builders, like Ensure or SlimFast have done, Soylent is tailored to ordinary people to substitute most of their meals.

It seems so bizarre to think this may be the way of the future, all of us zipping around on our hover boards and drinking Soylent from a tube. Although, I’m not sure how many people would replace their entire diet with a drink that has had consistently negative reviews regarding the taste; it has been compared to sour watered-down oatmeal or even having the look and consistency of semen. Further, we have no idea what the long-term effects of surviving on synthetic chemicals for the long term are. At one point in Rhinehart’s experiment, he had the dosage of magnesium wrong and ended up overdosing on it, these sorts of mistakes could be real issues for those making their own DIY recipes at home. It is easy to forget that the nutritional benefits of Soylent are based on tenuous scientific evidence modified every year. At moments, Rhinehart’s magic mixture feels like another fad diet that Americas love so much, always promising to safe time and energy.

Coconut

Although, Soylent contributions may be be much greater than originally intended. Its effects on helping larger global food issues could be huge. Given its high nutritional content and easily transportable powder form, Rhinehart’s mixture could easily be shipped to places of famine or natural disasters. And on issues closer to home, our country faces an obesity epidemic that is primarily fueled by economic issues of people eating based on calorie intake per dollar, making cheap and fattening fast food a main food source. While organic, local and slow food movements have become popular among the middle-class in recent years, much of this has been lost on the demographics of people who cannot afford such alternatives. Soylent or similar mixed drinks could be the answer by being both highly nutritional and cheap (some of the drink recipes posted online are as low as a dollar a day.) In the end, what Soylent may be best at is helping fix our national health crisis. Watch someone try Soylent out themselves:

(Images sourced via toiletpapermagazinemauriziodiiorio.tumblr and jessicapettway)

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