Some of us aren’t foodies.
In a perfect world, yours truly could get through his day with a minimum of meal fuss: zero prep, very little time lost and yet satisfying all the necessary nutritional quotas.
So when we first heard of Soylent 2.0 — a meal hack that portends to give you all the necessary calories and nutrients of a regular meal in a single bottle — we decided to investigate.
The idea behind Soylent is that you can fulfill all necessary nutrition (protein, carbs, fats, fibers, vitamins, etc.) and calories in a single bottle, without any added sugars, saturated fats or cholesterol.
It was an idea born of necessity.
“A couple of us were living in this hacker house in Silicon Valley and trying to save money,” says David Renteln, Soylent’s co-founder and CMO. “For food, we were eating ramen and corn dogs every day and feeling super sick. Rob Rhinehart [Soylent’s creator] made the original recipe, lived on it for 30 days, published all this work on his blog … and suddenly we had 30,000 people willing to draw their blood and participate in a trial. We figured we had a business.”
Soylent 2.0, the latest version, is about $2.50 per meal and offers up to about 20% of daily nutrition and 400 calories per serving. I tested it out for a couple of weeks, in various forms: by itself, hacked, as a full meal, as a mid-meal “snack.” (As well as trying out the earlier, powder-based 1.5)
Did it stick? Have we solved food?
Your Soylent queries answered below.
What’s different about 2.0? A few nutritional differences (“We went heavier on algal oil,” says Renteln). Primarily, it’s now in a bottle and ready-made, instead of a powder, making it easy to take on the go (yes, the bottles are recyclable).
How’s it taste? Almond milk, cereal milk and a very mild vanilla note come to mind. Inoffensive. A personal aside: I vastly preferred Soylent 2.0 to 1.5, which—no matter my mixing intensity—always seemed gritty and too similar to protein shakes I’d previously tried (and discarded).
What’s 2.0 cost? $29 for a shipment of 12. About twice the price of the powder.
Seriously, is this a meal replacement? Possibly. Renteln uses it in place of breakfast and lunch, then eats a regular dinner (“I’m starting with 800 calories, so I can probably have up to 2300 calories for dinner. Burgers, drinks, etc.”) Because Soylent contains carbs, you won’t feel like you’re starving yourself (and your energy levels don't dip). Personally, I had issues sticking strictly to Soylent (see “issues” below)— by the end, I was drinking a half serving alongside a small amount of solid food.
If not full meals, what else is Soylent good for? Great for post-gym workouts. And hangovers.
This is a food hack. So, can you hack the hack? This is the fun part. Given the relatively neutral taste profile of Soylent, it’s an easy drink to modify. Cinnamon works ridiculously well. I tried a mix of cocoa powder, cinnamon and a hint of brown sugar that did wonders. Replacing yogurt or milk with Soylent in fruit smoothies was also effective. Some recipes below.
One thing not to mix? Coffee. The end result was always bitter and unappetizing. Keep your java cravings separate.
Who shouldn’t drink Soylent? Pets. Those with celiac disease (it’s not gluten-free). Children. On the plus side, Soylent 2.0 is vegan, lactose-free and nut-free, as well as free of artificial and added sugars.
Can I make a delicious alcoholic beverage out of Soylent? Absolutely. You’ll want to mix with the 2.0 formula to avoid, er, clumps. Renteln swears by Soylent White Russians. “One part Soylent, one part Kahlua, one part vodka.” Yes.
TMI, but I’ve read a lot about bloating and gas issues with Soylent. You’d be correct. It really depends on your stomach. While not causing us too much, er, stress, we did end up cutting down our Soylent intake by half, and adding a bit of solid food to each serving—which helped. A lot. Drinking slowly also eased digestion. The Soylent forums are full of homemade solutions, be it adding psyllium husk or ginger root, or using combos of Beano, probiotics and Gas-X.
Could Soylent have a larger purpose? “We strongly believe this is how we’ll be getting our food in the future,” says Renteln. “There’s no reason to grow tons of plants on a 2-D surface, when you can grow something three dimensionally faster and cleaner.” That said, there are issues for using it to disrupt world hunger.
What are a couple of good Soylent recipes?
Here you go:
Soylent + Chocolate + Mint
• ¾ cup chocolate almond milk
• 1 serving soylent
• 20 large mint leaves
• ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
• 8-10 ice cubes
This smoothie is thinner than the rest. If you want a thicker texture, just add more ice cubes. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Soylent + Peanut Butter + Jelly
• 10 strawberries
• ½ cup lowfat milk, or almond milk
• 1 serving Soylent
• 5 ice cubes
• 2 Tablespoons smooth peanut butter
Add strawberries, milk, soylent and ice to blender. Add the peanut butter on top and blend until smooth. Add more ice to reach desired consistency.
Soylent + Kale + Pineapple + Banana
• ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
• 1 cup tightly packed baby kale (about 2 oz)
• 1 cup roughly chopped pineapple (chopped into 1” pieces / 6.7 oz)
• ½ of a medium sized banana
• 1 serving soylent
• 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
• 4-5 ice cubes
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Soylent + Banana + Mango + Coconut
• 1 medium banana, sliced into ½” pieces
• 1 cup roughly chopped mango - fresh or frozen
• ¼ cup low-fat greek yogurt
• ⅓ cup coconut water
• 1 teaspoon coconut extract
• ¼ cup unsweetened coconut (optional)
• 1 serving soylent
• Ice cubes if not using frozen banana or mango
If mixture is too thick, add ¼ cup water.
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until ice or frozen mango is crushed and mixture is smooth. Garnish with extra coconut.