A life without food? It either sounds great or it sounds terrible. Understandably Soylent has got some mixed press. Yet, somehow I missed the hype. It was only through talking with wildfirebird that I came across it. It was there, a curiosity, something that had pros and cons, and was little more than a diversion while travelling. But when I saw couple of blog posts cross my path again I started paying it more attention.
Like much of the adult population I would describe myself as a busy person. Far from unique, but there are many things I’d like to do and only so many hours in the day. Dylan Moran has a bit that describes the extreme of this stating the optimism we may feel over our diet. “If you’re getting very adventurous, tonight we will eat something that has two colours in it “, but the reality is “eating bread from the bag, dipping it in anything runnier than bread”. This month has had me squeezing gig preparation between full time work and a wedding. Bread from the bag is one solution, but instead I’ve had far more fast food than I would normally.
Soylent is a potential solution to this problem. It isn’t a panacea, some skepticism is warranted, but what I’ve been doing hasn’t been ideal either. Bread from the bag is easy. Take away is easy. Ready meals are easy. Solyent is quick and it is easy, that’s the point, but it’s also intended to be better for you than the other choices. Instant food, whenever I want, just add water. Colour me interested.
Soylent with a capital “S” is a powdered food substitute, but it’s massively backed up. There’s been a strong DIY following (soylent with a small “s”). I’ve spent a few hours looking through their stuff, considering things about my nutrition I never had before. I was thinking of jumping in here and coming up with my own recipe, but then I came across Joylent. Sure, it’s a Soylent clone with a hilarious take on knowing nothing about nutrition, but Occam’s razor suggests that it probably won’t kill me. Although the cost per day is higher, the start up costs are lower so I plan to experiment and see whether a (partially) liquid diet is something I’d like to explore further.
I’m not saying that I intend to give up food, but just knowing that soylent exists has made me far more aware of how annoying and disruptive not being able to have a decent meal whenever I want is. I’m not saying it’s ideal either, the jury’s out on that one, but neither is what I was doing before. I actually really enjoy cooking and I’ve been complimented for the two dishes I make over and over and over. If anything I want to cook more, ideally spending an afternoon experimenting with new and delicious things. Doing less simple rote preparation is fine with me.
So I did it. I picked up a five day supply of vanilla Joylent. I don’t intend to do the full meal replacement thing quite yet. This is just to see whether something really puts me off the idea of delving deeper into the world of DIY soylent. As much as it’s amusing to get a large quantity of miscellaneous off-white powder from a former drug dealer I’d like to have a bit more control over what I consume, if I do this long term. For now I plan on having about two meals’ worth a day, with some uncertainty of what to do over the weekends. I’m travelling and that is one of the times that I find my diet to be the worst, but it’s only a short trip this time and a sociable one, so I may skip it for those days.
It’s the evening of day one and I’m feeling fine. In fact, I’m feeling better than I was this morning. Lethargy had overcome me and a very consistent intake of calories may have helped stabilise me, even if this wasn’t the most productive day of my life. The container I’m using is too small to divide a day’s worth into three. This suits me fine. Having a small amount over half an hour, say, and then spacing the next small meal out until I start to feel like I need it has suited me well. Trusting my body seems to be working fine.
I’m having pizza with a friend this evening, so I’ve stopped consuming mid-afternoon and for the first time all day I feel hungry. I don’t want to be too full when eating socially, but in hindsight maybe I should have had more earlier.
Either way, day one seems a success. The Joylent is palatable, only very slightly gritty and theoretically more nutritious than what my previous default would have been. I’ll let you know how I’m getting on.