Soylent and the Quest for Food’s Obsolescence

We treat food as just one more of the “normalities” of life. We treat it the same way we do with the government, and books, and airplanes, and cars. They’re all considered normal, because, at the end of the day, they are. These factors have ruled our existence ever since their sphere of influence reached mass proportions, which for most of us is the time we’re living in right now. Therefore, we treat food as a regular thing because every other human being on Earth does the same.

However, what if the normalization of food was taken away, and a counter-intuitive, yet seemingly beneficial replacement was imposed? What if humans don’t need food after all? Well, this guy thinks he can answer exactly that.

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Meet Rob Rhinehart. Instead of having three meals throughout the day that can provide any human on Earth with the appropriate nutrients to balance their lifestyle, Rob believes that there is a more efficient way of doing that. A replacement. Essentially, he decided to boycott the very act of eating.

Rhinehart explains that the reason he wanted to stop eating is that, apparently, something as simple as food was still very inefficient when it comes to affecting people’s lives. With this, after reading a bunch of books and researching through many months, he finally created what he calls Soylent. One may be confused by this name for it connects to the 1973 science fiction film Soylent Green, where the “Soylent” consists of human flesh. But that’s not true in Rob’s case. His Soylent is human-free.

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Rhinehart says that Soylent contains all of the necessary nutrients for someone to have a balanced diet. He also believes that this might change the entire human-food relationship in the future.

As Rob explained in an interview [1], Soylent contains “vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients like essential amino acids, carbohydrates, and fat. For the fat, I just use olive oil and add fish oil. The carbs are an oligosaccharide, which is like sugar, but the molecules are longer, meaning it takes longer to metabolize and gives you a steady flow of energy for a longer period of time rather than a sugar rush from something like fructose or table sugar. I also add some nonessentials like antioxidants and probiotics and lately have been experimenting with nootropics.”

In sum, the liquid includes everything a human body needs in order to survive. Rob even says it tastes good. He also argues that his invention is perhaps revolutionary.

“Not thinking about food is fantastic,” he explained. The only significant drawback he mentioned is that he still needs to make Soylent every day since it “doesn’t keep long after mixing with water.”

Although many see Rob as being an overly ambitious pseudo-nutritionist, what he introduces with his Soylent might just be something that we’ll come back to in years to come. “Consumer behavior has a lot to do with cost and convenience. There are plenty of ways to be healthy, but Americans are more likely to be overweight simply because the food that’s cheap and convenient is unhealthy,” he says. “I think it’s possible to use technology to make healthy food very cheaply and easily, but we’ll have to give up many traditional foodstuffs like fresh fruits and veggies, which are incompatible with food processing and scale.”

In spite of that, I would argue that this is still a challenging idea to execute successfully due to the simple fact that people love food. If you really want to know if you support this idea, consider the following – would you ingest this liquid substance for the rest of your life just to avoid the daily prospect of having to prepare something for yourself? If the answer is no, be reminded that you can naturally still manage to live a healthy life without Soylent.

For such an idea to work, humans would have to live a life where the accessibility to food is nonexistent. In doing that, no options would be available excluding Soylent. Even so, the idea of establishing a system of “dietary torture” worldwide certainly overshadows any sort of benefits that this liquid might bring.

But imagine the unlikely prospect of the entire world using this substance. We would never need to kill animals for our “needs,” nor contribute to the environment’s detriment. All of that would occur while our health remains relatively the same as if you were a vegetarian, for instance.

An article on Gizmodo has a very negative and radical view of Rob’s idea, expressing that “you can’t fix political conflict and economic imbalances and runaway climate change by taking Uber and drinking Soylent. Just like you can’t replace food with a disgusting supplement.”

Despite that, I think that an article from The Plaid Zebra [2] wraps it up quite well:

“It may not be Soylent that we’re all eating in the future, but what revolution—civil, food, or otherwise—would have ever begun without a few brave souls to lead the way?”

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Footnotes:

[1] This Man Thinks He Never Has to Eat Again – VICE

[2] How this man stopped eating food for 30 days and stayed healthy

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