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Would You Live on Meal Replacements?

There are days the urge not to cook is so strong (I’d rather be reading or writing), I skip meals if I’m alone. At such times I wouldn’t mind this Soylent thingie. Here’s the article where I read about it:

” A few months ago we wrote about Soylent, an incredibly nutritious “food replacement” smoothie that Rob, a 24-year-old engineer, had been making and consuming as his only food source for almost five weeks. On one hand, it did look a bit like semen—but on the other, Rob claimed that by drinking it every day he’d never have to eat again. Given that starvation is a fairly major problem in the world at the moment and the planet’s population will likely surpass 9 billion by 2050, Rob’s invention seems like an important one.

Since we last talked to him, Rob and Soylent have become famous. His project has been derided as “dangerous,” “ludicrous,” and “a red flag for a potential eating disorder” by nutrition experts. Fortunately for Rob, the supporters of Soylent have been generous: a crowdfunding project for his fancy health goo raised almost $800,000 in under 30 days. Now Rob is the CEO of the Soylent Corporation; his hobby has officially turned into a career. His management team might look like the kind of technically minded nerds who’d want to consume most of their meals in the form of a beige, odorless powder mix, but they’re also the potential forefathers of a famine cure.

Will Soylent become a food replacement?

Replacing meals with Soylent

With over $1 million in preorders already received for Soylent worldwide, it seems like this stuff is going to stick around.”

The thing about Soylent is that its inventor is calling it not just a meal replacement, but also food replace

ment. He is apparently consuming only this milky liquid, to the exception of everything else, for the past few months. Ugh.

I love good food, and the idea of surviving only on Soylent is daunting. Especially when the guy goes pretty scifi and says:

Just because something is natural doesn’t mean it’s safe or healthy, and just because something is artificial doesn’t mean it’s unhealthy or dangerous. Look around you. Nothing we buy is natural. Everything useful is designed and manufactured, and food should be no different. People are afraid of sweeteners when it’s real sugar that’s killing us. They’re afraid of preservatives when food waste is rampant. McDonald’s is trying to engineer lower-calorie food that is more filling to fight obesity, but people are demanding natural-sounding ingredients. It’s frustrating to watch. The idea of “real food” is just snobbery. Everyone has the right to be healthy, even people who don’t like vegetables.

If I were a scifi writer, I would cough up a novel about this. Or at the very least, a short story. What about you? Would you eat simply to live, or would you like to live to eat as well?

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her forthcoming literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and will be published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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35 Comments

  • cavegirlmba says:

    No way!!!

  • theidyllicpeer says:

    OK. I have to say , I know the feeling and I totally get it. I can understand why this guy invented this soylent or whatever. I used to be all for ‘live to eat’ until I had to start cooking on my own. I used to wonder for days, why, why isn’t there just a pill or some substitute to replace food? Why do I have to cook to eat it…!! But the reality isn’t going to change and that is…people will get bored of this too , we all want varieties can’t stick to the same smoothie everyday. I still am ‘live to eat’ provided I don’t have to cook 😛 Yes, but if you want to solve the starvation issue in the third world countries , It’s …an idea, but I’m sure they have no frikkin idea what a smoothie is! 😀

  • eadavisblog says:

    I don’t think that I could live off of a meal supplement, well nutritionally maybe I could, but I certainly wouldn’t want to. However, if there is a chance that such an invention can help cure the world’s hunger problem and we can do that not only effectively but cost efficiently, that would definitely be something worth looking into! I say that if Soylent could be the answer to some of the world’s hunger problems I think that they should have a donation page to be able to donate this substance to food banks and such.

  • S.P.Bowers says:

    Soylent? Realy? Are we sure that’s not a joke based on the old movie Soylent Green?

    Well, anyway, I love food. There are lots of times I don’t want to bother and skip meals, but when I eat I like my flavors and varieties. I especially like to pick everything from my garden then cook it in my kitchen.

  • Julian Neuer says:

    What a coincidence… Just last week I posted my short story “Mealtime” (http://corianderpause.wordpress.com/2013/08/27/mealtime/), which looks at some of the social and psychological tensions related to food.

  • margie says:

    I love going into my garden and picking all my vegetables and then cooking and eating them!
    I love food and would never give it up!

  • I probably could, but I sure wouldn’t want to – especially if it looked unappetizing. I tried to drink the ubiquitous ‘green drink’ that was the rage a few months back. Nauseating.

  • It looks a bit like semen? Gee that’s a great selling point.

  • I can’t get past the name “Soylent.” For anyone who has seen the movie “Soylent Green,” as with another comment, that name has to raise immediate red flags and a strong inner message to avoid this product at all costs. What were they thinking to name it that? Unless of course, it also is manufactured from human cadaver byproducts.

  • ashleycapes says:

    I couldn’t handle it for long 🙂
    Food is an event!

  • Dave says:

    I wish I could get into the eating to live mentality. That way I could drop a few pounds 🙂 Unfortunately, I enjoy eating too much …

  • Sorry, I enjoy good food and enjoy eating it. And preparing it – we make most of our meals.

  • Food and it’s variety is something that adds joy to life. I can see the need for supplements in some cases but living solely on a liquid seems dull at best. And many thanks for stopping by my blog. Glad you enjoyed the story.

  • Jemima Pett says:

    Well, I’ve done a short story where the colonists lived on meal tabs and rationed corn since it didnt grow well (Thanksgiving, it was T for my A to Z this year!) I’ve also recently reviewed Seed Savers: Treasure by S Smith, where the populace live on blocks of ‘food’ they get from the ‘Store’ and have no idea that vegetables or fruits exist, let alone can be eaten.

    In the real world, it is really difficult to get valid data on the long-term effects of ‘manufactured’ food. There are suspicions that preservatives in food and substance like artifical sweeteners may cause body fat to ‘lock in’ ihence the increase in obesity – but it’s only one of many factors and can’t be proved.

    The food industry is an industry. It relies on marketing and consumer ignorance. I’ve lost weight since I’ve been eating more food grown in my own garden and cut out prepared meals from the supermarket. Enough said.

  • Live to eat. A g-d-given rite. There is enough to be shared and not spoiled or wasted, yet the few hoard, then waste when bored, while the masses wait. This is haunting stuff. It reminds me so much of the pioneering science-fiction thriller of the same name which ironically starred Charlton Heston. And if I’m not mistaken, the solyent green is derived from human flesh.

  • sisimka says:

    The idea of “real food” being snobbery got me, too.

    I think part of being alive is varied experience. We have senses and we have the intelligence to interpret the data they give us as more than: this is dangerous or this is safe. We want to explore taste and texture. That’s why so many of us enjoy such a varied diet.

    Not everyone enjoys the same privilege and the choice between a pasty drink and /nothing/ is an easy one. But there is nothing wrong with wanting more. That’s part of being human.

  • Obviously when I go out into my garden and cut a crisp fresh lettuce for tea (that I have grown without chemical help) I am being a food snob. Well, well, you live and learn. I’d never realised that liking to taste food was a snob thing.
    Even so, thanks but no thanks … I’ll leave off the semen for now.

  • kiwigal007 says:

    Soylent may have its advantages (to which I am sure there are many) but I think that the human body would be deprived if it lived on this product alone. Many of us like to ‘chew’ our foods that we eat rather than swallow something… OK yes we like to drink too but I think you get what I mean… I wonder if they would add flavours to this ‘miracle product’ just to make it a little bit more interesting… I am sorry this foodie is not really terribly sure on the product.. my cookbooks would ultimately be a wasted collection and no doubt be sold or some other thing… eek! 🙁

  • As a foodie, eating as a menial function is difficult to imagine. Cooking and dining have always been important parts of my life and I consider them unique experiences I don’t wanna give up.

    However I do get the logic behind the invention. I’ve been a humanitarian volunteer for 9 years now and food has always been on of the greatest global problems we face. Procuring food is already expensive and difficult so providing impoverished communities with healthy alternatives is a welcome option.

  • Topaz says:

    I love the enjoyment that comes with eating. I couldn’t give it up.

    If it were Slimfast or a weight-loss shake, then I would go for it; I would still be able to eat a meal.

  • macjam47 says:

    I would never give up food, especially not for goo. However, a good, nutrious and FLAVORFUL smoothie once in a while is not a bad thing.

  • I thought there was the problem with not getting exercise for the teeth. Chew gum maybe? Throw some nuts in?

  • Arlee Bird says:

    I read about this the other day. It’s something I had been thinking about even before I read the article. As I get older, eating is often less of a pleasure. Don’t get me wrong, I still love good food, but just not as much as I used to. Especially in the summer when it’s hot I sometimes wish I could just have cool liquid meals.

    I probably could deal with a diet like this if I could occasionally have stuff like pizza now and then.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

  • dalo2013 says:

    I would love to have some of this stuff…generally I view food as something I must eat to fuel my body, and would like something quick, easy and nutritious. However, i would need the occasional break for steak, blueberry pancakes and great breakfasts now and then…it may sound very contradictory, but I do love great food. All the food in between “Soylent” and great food I could do without.

  • Mr. CATSOE says:

    What in the world would I do with my teeth…?? (I’m haven’t even finished paying for them yet..!!) LoL

  • feygrrl says:

    No. Just no. I love eating and making food too much to give it up.

  • Soylent Green was the scariest movie ever to me. I am allergic to people and overwhelming populous scares the crap out of me. I had to look up the product and I see rice is a substantial ingredient and rice is loaded with arsenic. It might get rid of the human infestation problem, so it does have some upsides.

  • Rana says:

    I could never give up good food. If Wonka ever gets hold of Soylent and makes it into a 3-course meal flavor like the gum from the movie, they can call me. Otherwise… *runs to Wendy’s for a burger* XD

  • A bit of artifical food colouring would help. Then maybe a mashed banana, and various chopped fruit, such as mangoes and guavas. Mix with whipped cream, and serve with a lovely chocolate coated icecream. Sounds delicious! I’m going for it.

  • You lost me at semen.

  • Reblogged this on Amanda's Words / starfire8me and commented:
    I would like that too, cept I got my boys to feed e’ryday.

  • I suppose you can live on anything, but gosh, how depressing! Interesting food is one of my great joys in life!

  • I live to eat and mean to consume oceans of Fruity Pebbles. If they could make a dietary supplement made of that sweet goodness that was actually nutritious–I would live on that. 🙂

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