I’ve been thinking a lot about drinking your nutrition since I read about a product that’s in development now called Soylent. First of all, I had to get past the name — in the 1973 movie “Soylent Green,” a food substitute called Soylent Green is consumed for nutrition in an overpopulated, polluted world ... and it's made from dead people.
Fortunately, Soylent isn’t made from people, but it seems crazy that someone would name a meal replacement drink after it. You’d think that would turn people off, but it hasn't. Investors are lining up to seed this nutritionally-balanced powder created by 25-year-old Rob Rhinehart.
Rhinehart, a busy electrical engineer, was tired of subsisting on cheap, unhealthy takeout and wasn’t interested in taking the time to cook for himself. He looked for a powdered drink that would meet all his nutrition needs, but he couldn’t find one. So, he created one. He drinks two to four shakes a day during the week and on the weekend he goes out to restaurants with friends and eats food, which he says he really does actually like.
To bring Soylent to the masses, he started a Crowdhoster campaign last May that raised $1.5 million in pre-orders. He recently announced that he’s raised an additional $1.5 million in seed money from investors.
After getting past the name — which actually may be a brilliant move because it's bound to get more attention than something like “Rhinehart’s Powdered Nutrition” would have gotten — I started really thinking about this.
As someone who loves to cook, loves to eat, and believes in the benefits of cooking good, wholesome foods for and with my family along with the benefits of sitting around a table and sharing a long meal, my immediate thought was, “There is no benefit to this.”
But I was only thinking about my own circumstances. There would be no benefit to this for my family. I have the time to prepare healthy foods. I have the money to buy them. I’m teaching my boys to cook so when they’re 25, they’ll be able to do it for themselves.
This product may not be for my family. But, there are predictions of the world population becoming so large in the not-so-distant future that having enough food for everyone may become a problem. (Hunger is already a problem, but not because we don’t have enough food.)
We have food insecurity right here in the United States. Right now, Soylent is selling for $65 for a week’s worth of nutrition. Could Soylent, or something like it, help in solving that problem?
Rhinehart has been drinking the majority of his meals for 10 months now, and he says he feels great. He gets blood tests and body metric tests as he goes along. And, with the money he’s raised, he’s brought on Dr. Pi-Sunyer, professor of medicine at the Columbia University Institute of Human Nutrition and co-director of the New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center, as an advisor as well as other advisors to help him with the formulation. Already he’s followed their advice and changed the amount of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in the product.
I know people who don’t like to eat. I am certainly not one of them. I don’t think I’d ever enjoy just drinking my meals. In fact, if my experience with Slim-Fast back in my college years is any indication, I’m positive I wouldn’t enjoy drinking my meals. But, for people who don’t like to eat, for people who aren’t going to take the time to eat a healthy meal, or for people who don’t have healthy meals to eat, maybe Rhinehart is on to something here.
These are just the thoughts that have been going around in my head since I read about this last night. What are your immediate thoughts about Soylent? If it turns out to be nutritionally sound, would you drink your meals?
Related on MNN: