The Whole Food Fallacy

lifeforce

This is a response to: http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2013/08/20/soylent/, as well as some of the comments

In 1828, a young organic chemist named Friedrich Wöhler committed heresy.  Wöhler accidentally synthesized Urea, a component of many lifeforms, from inorganic components. At the time everyone knew there was a special “life force” that separated organisms from other matter. It was a long uphill battle to convince the scientific community, but eventually the evidence won out. Regardless, even today many laymen tacitly assume that the holistic makeup of lifeforms such as food rise magically above their constituent chemicals.

Everything is made of parts. The idea of holistic food represents the death throes of Vitalism, the fallacious assumption that there is something materially special about forms of life separate from other forms of matter. This is an easy mistake to make. Humans and animals move, breathe, and mate, unlike rocks or soil, but we’re all made of the same interchangeable forms of matter and energy. A stone dropped in to a pond will take the shortest path to the bottom. A human will take the shortest route to work, and cling to old ideas. Life is complex, but there is nothing about it that disobeys well understood laws of chemistry and physics. I am not sure if consciousness is reducible, but carrots certainly are.

Creating a lifeform from scratch is an elusive task, and though great strides have been made recently we still have limits in our understanding. However, you do not need to fully understand an organism to feed it. Bacteria grown in labs are always grown on a synthetic medium of nutrients called “LB”. Pets live on synthetic diets and are much healthier and long-lived than their wild counterparts. We don’t know how proteins fold but we do know all the metabolic pathways of a human, and our complete elemental makeup, thanks to elemental analysis. Even the grand diversity of the human microbiome contains conserved metabolic pathways. We do not yet know what the ideal diet for a human is, but our present understanding permits us to easily design a diet that is far superior to what most people are eating.

Humans have lived on animal flesh and the reproductive organs of plants for a long time, but food has been changing all along. And it still is. The development of agriculture, then preservation, then nutrition, then processing, and now even biotechnology have all vastly improved our food products and lifestyle over their natural forms and immensely increased the carrying capacity of the earth. In fact, the foods we thrive on today are far from natural. How do you think bananas reproduce without seeds? The United States began adding Niacin to bread in 1938, which largely eliminated the deadly disease Pellagra, and iodized salt likely has a lot to do with the steady rise in IQ seen in the last century.

This is not to say that all new foods are healthy. Many food companies design purely for the sensory experience of food, leading to products that are over-stimulating, unbalanced, or even addictive. I am amazed that we have cheap chocolate bars, which would have been a kingly delicacy not long ago, but I think we deserve new healthy options as well.

Now, to respond to Tim’s concerns:

Food is not a game – I agree. What food company is more concerned with the nutrition of their product than its sensory appeal? We are more serious about health than any competitor in the industry.

Meal-replacement powders aren’t new – Affordable food substitutes are. No MRP has been designed to be a sustainable source of nutrition. Furthermore, in terms of calorie per dollar, we are easily a factor of 5 better than any of them, and will only get cheaper. Competing with groceries is a new market. And it’s a big one.

Be careful with any terminology – Soylent is not a medical product and we make no medical claims. It’s not a diet or “cleanse” either. It’s quantified food. Soylent is healthy food without all the unnecessary parts. I suppose you could live on it entirely, but why would you want to? Leisure food is an important part of life and culture.

Epistemic arrogance – Elemental analysis has given us a finite, complete list of the elements our bodies are made of. This doesn’t tell us the different chemical configurations required, such as vitamins, but patients have lived for many years on synthetic diets in a medical setting. It was premature in the 19th century, but it’s overdue today. Again, beware of zero-risk bias. How nutritionally complete is the average western diet already?

Nutrition and people are not one-size-fits-all – Our metabolic pathways are largely identical. Everyone makes proteins out of the same Lysine and breaks down glucose polymers with the same enzymes. It’s the extra “stuff” in food that gives people problems. By removing that you can have something fit for almost everyone. Still, people need different amounts of calories. Everyone lives on water, just different amounts.

Other common criticisms from the comments,

We don’t know what we don’t know – Not good enough. Show me some evidence that “food synergy”, which sounds suspiciously like a “vital force”, is essential to thrive. The evidence to the contrary is mounting rapidly.

Why not just put the work in to eating “real” food? – Your computer is slow? Just be more patient. No. Make it faster. By automating the essentials of living we can enjoy life more. Less cooking and cleaning means more math and music.

I like Soylent. I use it all the time. My life is simpler, cleaner. My thoughts are clearer, my body leaner. I still enjoy my favorite foods, though my tastes have changed somewhat towards nicer, more flavorful kinds. I find eating is a lot more fun when it’s optional, similar to taking a road trip versus driving to work.

 I do not understand the negativity surrounding Soylent. Perhaps some people confuse matters of taste with matters of morality. Some have their cooking and eating habits and seem to be offended that mine are different. I do not think it is unreasonable to desire to eat on my own terms. I would never look down on someone else’s eating habits, but I do want people to be healthy. I reasoned that by making eating healthy easier, and cheaper, more people would do so, and it seems to be working. People are not going to stop eating poorly overnight. Perhaps we should make the easy food healthier, rather than asking people to mold their entire lives around it. If the existing options for eating well were adequate more people would do so.

Most meals involve little to no ritual or social experience. Most meals will be forgotten. If we had an ultimate staple food replace these we would be much healthier and happier and not have to worry as much about the nutrition of the experiential meals we enjoy for pleasure.

I do not enjoy grocery shopping, cooking, or cleaning dishes and I shouldn’t have to. I do not like to repeat myself and I do not like having things that I do not need. No one asks me to make my own clothes. Why should I be expected to make my own food? Of course I respect a good designer or chef, I just have other skills and hobbies. Food is great, but most of the time I find what is on my computer or in my books far more stimulating than what is in my refrigerator.

I find it very strange that people want us to fail, but it doesn’t matter to me. Things are getting better. Even the deluge of negativity from Hacker News is subsiding into mere grumpiness. A decade from now when everyone is healthier we’ll all have a good laugh about it.

  • René

    Well, at least count me in as one who thinks your product/way of thinking is great.

  • better

    What are you, poor? hahaha

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  • no

    Our metabolic pathways are not identical. Oh my god, what are you doing. Please learn what you are doing before you do it.

    • Joes

      Um, yes they are actually.

      • John

        no they are not … I really love the idea of Soylent – but I have to strongly agree with Ferriss on this topic … EVERY BODY IS DIFFERENT … of course i think you can live of soylent BUT you might get some slight issues because you're body needs a slight different mix of minerals etc. … everyone saying different can go work in the pharma industry, because they live of the "you are 2 points above normal, take this pill"

        I have for instance too much red blood cells and too much iron. My GF hasn't got enough. Because we thought it would be a nice little thing to try out, we both drank/ate the same food for 3 month and still had the same difference in iron. Two bodys are not alike.

        AND: science is always evolving … every year gain new knowledge of what our bodies need/how they work …

        (I love the idea, but I really think you need to learn to handle criticism a little bit better – and ignore the complete bullshit ones, but I think the points that Ferriss raised are valid & it's constructive criticism …)

        • Geno

          The metabolic pathways among humans are identical; if a different textbook for cell biology was needed to describe each human system then the print industry would be doing much better. 

          I think most people not studying biochemistry or some other branch of biology have a different notion of what a pathway is when compared to it's true meaning in cellular biology.

          What I believe you are referring to (when giving the example of the differences between you and your girlfriend) refers more to the efficiency of a process than how it differs. You and your girlfriend do not have a different pathway invoked for the production of red blood cells or the functional use of iron, but your cells have, perhaps, something slightly different someplace. Ex: a more frequently actived signaling cascade, due to an overactive receptor that more frequently leads to the required signalling cascade…leading to more red blood cells being produced than neccesary. (of course I have no idea what the actually issue is, and there are for more factors than I am making it out to seem). Such a different could be due to your proteins being of slightly different shape and amino acid composition than your girlfriends, but that doesn't excuse that fact that the process of making those proteins, and the pathways that produced the precursors are the same in both of your cells.

          An actual example of a pathway: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shikimic_acid_pathway

          This one is neat because we as humans don't have it, but do notice how this same pathway is conserved across bacteria, plants, fungi, and various others organisms I don't know. This is actually one of the reasons we as humans need to consume one of those listed organisms, because the pathway produces aromatic compounds we cannot synthesize but require for protein synthesis. The likelihood of a few humans having a whole different pathway (although theoretically possible) is slim, and probably not compensated for by a diet of regular food anyways….

          It is, of course, possible to theorize how Rob's idea of nutrition and consumption is not perfect. It does, however, have the capacity of being far more consistently right compared to most people's eating habits, all whilst taking less time; I felt this to be the point of Rob's post.

           

      • JEDIDIAH

        No they aren’t. I can thrive off of macronutrient combinations that would make others sick and vice versa. The human body is a complex biological machine and not everyone’s machine is the same. We’re barely scratching the surface of understanding our own biology.

        The notion of “the vitamin pill” is just modern hubris.

        • kazagistar

          Did you miss the dozen time Rob mentioned "zero risk bias"?

          >Again, beware of zero-risk bias. How nutritionally complete is the average western diet already?

          Sure, my ideal nutrition is going to be different from yours. But most people are a lot further from their ideal nutrition then soylent is from their ideal nutrition.

    • Edu

      Show us some proof please!

    • name

      If our metabolic pathways are not identical, then every biology, biochemistry, and medical school course talking about ATP and cell metabolism is lying.

    • Matt

      He said largely identical, not exactly the same in every way. His example was clear and precise. We use the same stuff in the same way, he in no way implied that we all need the same amounts. He, in fact, said the exact opposite. 'Everyone lives on water, just different amounts.' was his example and it applies to all minerals. Women need additional iron (in comparison to men), African-Americans (and non-American Africans) need extra vitamin D (in comparison to most other races). They know there are differences in need, but we all use similar enzymes to process the same minerals.

  • Bruce

    Good luck and thanks for all the hard work. I can't wait to try it. (PS I Hope you ship to Canada soon!)

  • CL

    One does not need to subscribe to vitalism to call BS on soylent (and micronutrient theory in general). It's quite clear that all food is made out of material substance, and that one need only determine the correct balance of substance in order to live. I do not object — soylent/monkeychow is theoretically possible.

    What I object to is the idea that we might easily know what the composition is, what components are important, and which are not. Our gut is quite complicated, and the fauna it supports is also complicated. And the interactions between them is combinatorically complicated.

    This complicated system varies with time, too: maybe I broke a bone and my body needs extra calcium to affect repairs. Maybe I've been pulling all-nighters coding up a storm, and extra neurotransmitter chemicals need to be synthesized. Maybe the body achieves these goals by promoting or suppressing species in the gut via immune response? Maybe it directly synthesizes it, or extracts it? The point is, the body is not a static factory or a mine that converts foodstuffs into body material — we're talking about a very complicated system! I've seen nearly zero evidence that anyone has considered this.

    Our gut is built to deal with a rich and varied input stream, processing out the subset that meets our daily needs at any given time. On top of that the waste stream is functional. Why? Perhaps our gut is mildly ruminant and we get non-trivial dietary service from it? Related to the function of dietary fiber (hint: unknown by sicence)? Fauna might play a major role in preventing disease? Epigenics is interesting here too — does diet control gene expression? Let's not forget antinutrients — what if there are materials that actually harm your gut, or your fauna, or body/brain? How do you know they are not present in soylent when we don't even know what they are? What if some materials are antinutrients at one concentration, but nutrients at another? What if a material is categorized as nutrient or not depending on the time of day, age, the cycles of your digestion, and other subtle factors that only bubble up to your mental state as vague cravings that most dieters naively suppress? I think these questions are not addressed to my satisfaction in the literature, and certainly not by these soylent people. It sounds too much like hand-waving futurism/religion-of-progress, and not real science. 

    There are real technical reasons to wait-and-see how people treated with this substance turn out at the very least.  

    • Eugen

      When your bone breaks, do you start buying more calcium rich foods? Or just eat the same familiar meals as before? That's what most people do anyway, without giving one minute's thought on whether there is any calcium in their diet — or even knowing the element is required for building bones, for that matter. The only reason they are even alive is precisely because they have this "very complicated system": the reason it is very complicated is so that it can cope with broken bones and adapt to almost whatever garbage you throw in, as long as it gets the bare minimum it needs.

      That's why you can live by just following "vague craving". It's what wild animals do, but at least I would be eating apple pies and potato chips all the time if I only did that. While the composition of Soylent may not be 100% fully informed yet, it most likely is more informed than the the daily special in your nearest restaurant. I'd say we have a much better chance of getting everything necessary by consuming a baseline of engineereed nutritional package (e.g. Soylent) and then following those cravings for, say, 1/3 daily calories.

    • Edu

      So it's better to stay on our healthy Mc Donald's diet?

    • hxka

      Congratulations, you've just proved that food is not possible.

      • Rishar

        ^  This.  Thank you for that.  You made my day. 

    • name

      so how exactly do you change the food you eat in order to cater to your neurotransmitter chemical and gene expression needs? extra peanut-butter on that 2am PB&J?

    • John

       Maybe I've been pulling all-nighters coding up a storm, and extra neurotransmitter chemicals need to be synthesized. Maybe the body achieves these goals by promoting or suppressing species in the gut via immune response? Maybe it directly synthesizes it, or extracts it? 

      So given these circumstances, how would you deal with them normally? And how would the use of soylent affect that response? I would argue that whether you use soylent has little or nothing to do with what you are talking about. So you need more calcium. Drink some milk. Doesn't matter if you had soylent for breakfast.

  • Charles

    An interesting response, and I generally agree with a lot of what you said, and have defended your approach. But I would strongly disagree with this statement: "Nutrition and people are not one-size-fits-all – Our metabolic pathways are identical. Everyone makes proteins out of the same Lysine and breaks down glucose polymers with the same enzymes. "

    That's true in a way, but completely false in another. Please take the time to read, "Biochemical Individuality," by Roger Williams. In fact we are all very, very different in our ability to absorb and use nutrients. And having been in the nutritional field for a few decades, that has been demonstrated to me time after time. 

    A dietary approach (or supplement) that works wonderfully for one person might be neutral for another, and harmful to someone else. That's not from theory, but from practice, and theory supports it.

    And of course what we want to do is not just to survive, but to thrive. And between us, we have very different abilities to break down foods, to absorb nutrients. And not only is it different between you and I, it's different for you and I at different times, and under different conditions and stressors.

    This is not to say that Soylent, or another meal replacement, might be great for a lot of people. Certainly it's better than what passes for the standard American diet for a lot of folks who eat nothing but crappy processed foods.

    But please don't discount biological differences and differing nutritional requirements between individuals. That's very important to keep in mind. And also keep in mind that nutritional regimens that might make people feel really good in the short term, can, and often do, turn out to be harmful in the long term.

    By the way, I am a supporter, I paid into the project, and I intend to try Soylent for myself. And as I say, I have defended you in various forums. So I'm not just hating here. Just want to throw in some knowledge gained through sometimes hard experience over 40+ years. And I definitely don't know what I don't know, but I fairly convinced it's a lot.

    • Paul

      Indeed, and while we all need carbs, protein, and fats, not everybody requires them in the same ratios. Personally I would be looking for different versions of Soylent tailored to ecto-, endo- and mesomorphs.

    • Matt

      Hopefully you are monitoring responses because I would like your opinion on the following which I posted in response to somebody else, whether I am correct in my assessment or completly off base.

      He said largely identical, not exactly the same in every way. His example was clear and precise. We use the same stuff in the same way, he in no way implied that we all need the same amounts. He, in fact, said the exact opposite. 'Everyone lives on water, just different amounts.' was his example and it applies to all minerals. Women need additional iron (in comparison to men), African-Americans (and non-American Africans) need extra vitamin D (in comparison to most other races). They know there are differences in need, but we all use similar enzymes to process the same minerals.

      • sbguy

        Sorry to be so late on this. But saying we use the same stuff in the same way isn’t really saying anything useful. It’s kind of like starting a relationship with someone because of the fact that you are both carbon-based life forms. That’s true, but not really helpful in deciding whether to date someone!

        That we use the same enzymes to process foods may also be true, but the important thing is that we have different amounts of those enzymes, at different times, with different levels of efficiency. For the most part, the fact that we are similar means that we can figure out what won’t poison us, and that will be true across the board for all humans (though not 100%). But figuring out what will make any individual thrive is much trickier, because we are all very different in important ways.

        The thing about eating whole food is that it allows us to experiment with the various ratios of macro- and micro-nutrients, based on cravings (which can tell you a lot if you listen), or on performance, immune system response, etc. With Soylent, you can only eat more or less of the whole thing.

        So I would anticipate that anyone using Soylent as their primary food over a period of time will start to crave other foods in order to make up for something they’re missing in Soylent. And I would also anticipate that some people are probably going to screw up their metabolism when they start having issues because they believe the fault is with them, not with Soylent. Of course that happens now, when some people damage themselves with vegan diets for example. So in that sense Soylent won’t be novel. And as many have said, it’s going to be better, for most people, than the standard American/Western diet. But. Not. For. Everyone.

        And in my mind, the most critical disclaimer Soylent should be putting out is:

        “Soylent is not for everyone. For some of you it will be great, for some of you it will be okay, and for some of you it just won’t work. Pay attention to your body and if you don’t feel better with Soylent, don’t use it. We think that’s okay.”

  • http://robmcclellan.thirdscribe.com Rob Mc

    I agree with you, Rob.

    I love to eat, I love to cook, I greatly enjoy the taste of food.  But, I have a gut disorder that has developed over the last few years that makes eating normally very difficult for me.  I am extremely interested in Soylent and trying it for myself.

    A real MRP has extraordinary value to me.  I do NOT want you to fail — I want you to make a great product that can help me return to a happy life.  When everything I eat makes me sick, I'm hoping that something I drink can make me well.

    Charge on!

    • Rob Dowdy

      To all the people reacting with shock and horror to the notion of "people chow" and going on and on about how we could never synthesize a single food that would satisfy human dietary needs … what do you feed your dogs? Your cats? Are you the same people who sniff haughtily at the thought of feeding your dog "people food" because they are on an expensive specially balanced canine diet?

      I have a cat who's going strong in her teens and she's eaten the same food every day for many, many years.

      Humans are just plain old unremarkable mammals, just like dogs and cats and pigs and cows and gorillas. Why is it possible to provide dog chow and cat chow and gorilla chow but not human chow?

      There's nothing super special and magical about human dietary requirements.

      • name

        Bachelor Chow! Now with flavor!

        http://theinfosphere.org/Bachelor_Chow

      • Michael R.

        @ Rob Dowdy.Yes! Exactly. I just don't understand why some people are so threatened by Soylent? Go get pissed off at every fast food restaurant in the US, and leave Rob and team to provide many of us with an opportunity to have a balanced diet much more easily.

        • Paul

          Always a huge risk posting due to lack of vocal info and body language but I'm asking this out of genuine interest to understand this debate better: have you asked anyone who's opposed to soylent directly why they are? Just asking as you said you can't understand why they would be. Probably shouldn't stick my oar in as we've not met (and probably never will), like I said, asking out of genuine interest, hope no offence caused

          • meh

            /nicest comment ever.

  • Nathan

    I think it's great that you posted this reply Rob. Ever since I started I following your journey the one person I've really been waiting to hear from was Tim. When he did finally post about Soylent I was quite reassured as there was nothing he raised that made me feel you guys were doing it wrong. Your reply has reinforced that feeling. 

    Well done and keep up the great work! 

    p.s. any ideas when you'll be shipping to Australia? 

    p.p.s I'd really love to intern for you guys!

  • Charles

    And let me just add that I don't think there's any reason to be afraid of Soylent, or think it's going to hurt people. It's another mean replacement powder, of which there are many, and it's probably better than most if not all. I think the various people freaking out about it might better spend their time freaking out about the crap most people eat, and the companies that spend millions of dollars trying to manipulate our emotional and biological responses so as to make us want to eat crap.

    It's just important to remember that in nutrition, more than just about everything, one size does not fit all. That just ain't true. 

  • http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog Tim Ferriss

    Hi Rob,

    You are associating me with wording I didn't use ("food synergy", etc.) and even bold quotes I didn't make (e.g. "Why not just put the work in to eating 'real' food?").  

    Creating straw man arguments that I didn't make is underhanded and deceptive.  It will hurt your credibility more than help it.

    I don't want you to fail and explicitly stated otherwise in my piece, but this so-called "rebuttal" makes me question your ethics.

    All the best,

    Tim Ferriss

    • rob

      Hi Tim, some aspects are in response to your specific points, but I went on to respond to some of the other more common criticisms and terms I saw in the comments that I think warranted a response.

      This post is not explicitly a rebuttal. It's a response inspired by Shane Snow's experience, your commentary, as well as the general comments around the internet. I updated the post to more clearly indicate what you did or did not say.

      I would never wish to create a straw man argument or associate your words with those of internet commenters and I am sorry if it seems the line began to blur. If you still think there is ambiguity please let me know here or via email and I will edit further.

      • Edu

        +1

      • http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog Tim Ferriss

        Hi Rob,

        My responses in line:

        "Hi Tim, some aspects are in response to your specific points, but I went on to respond to some of the other more common criticisms and terms I saw in the comments that I think warranted a response."

        TIM:  Fine, but you implied they were attributed to me in the original post. Thanks for adding the edits you have.

        "This post is not explicitly a rebuttal. It's a response inspired by Shane Snow's experience, your commentary, as well as the general comments around the internet. I updated the post to more clearly indicate what you did or did not say."

        TIM:   I still never used "food synergy" and that paragraph implies I did.  

        "I would never wish to create a straw man argument or associate your words with those of internet commenters and I am sorry if it seems the line began to blur. If you still think there is ambiguity please let me know here or via email and I will edit further."

        TIM:  Yes, see aforementioned comment.  "Food synergy" is not my words, yet it still remains clearly implied, despite the fact that I mentioned it in my last comment.  Was never part of my argument. Thanks for removing.

        Tim

        • Jim

          I'm a fan of Tim's (4HWW changed my life), but am confused as to why he is being so picky with this post by Rob. Maybe there is some previous history between the two? 

          Rob's initial post said it was a response to [link to Tim's blog].  Tim provides a minority of the content at that link, with Shane telling his story, and the over three hundred comments providing the majority of the content.  It's as if Rob had commented on a 300 page book, and the guy who wrote the forward thought all the comments applied directly to him, and not the author. 

          • Michael R.

            Yes, Tim. Leave it be. You look like an ass.

          • http://www.pascalforget.com Pascal Forget

            I agree with you, Jim. I was also surprised by Tim pickiness to a quite articulate, interesting and polite answer.

            I'm really happy that somebody is working on an inexpensive meal replacement. Of couse, there will be the question of different formulation and dosage, and medical follow-up will be important. But until the formula is perfect(ed), those who are worried about "not getting enough" can just supplement the soylent diet with some real food from time to time. (Getting too much might be an issue.)

            I can't wait for it to be available to Canada to try it out.

        • rob

          Okay it should now be more clear that you did not use the term.

          • Pete

            If you make an edit to a post, you HAVE to indicate what changes were made! 

        • Pete

          Major kudos for caring and replying again. You're great, Tim!

    • http://jamesrtyrrell.com James

      TIm, 

      I'm a huge fan but he clearly says

      Other common criticisms from the comments,

      We don’t know what we don’t know– Not good enough. Show me some evidence that “food synergy”, which sounds suspiciously like a “vital force”, is essential to thrive. The evidence to the contrary is mounting rapidly.

      It is obviously not aimed at anything you've said but comments on the post. I mean maybe he could make the statement "Other common criticisms from the comments" a H3 title but it's fairly evident to any competent human being that he is no longer discussing you.

      I'm sure you can see this as I know you're a smart guy, 

      James
       

  • Allison

    I see people stumbling over the "not one size fits all" issue in the comments, by then trying to say it's not right for everyone. I recognise you are not saying everyone should or will eat your product – but for those that can it is a healthy and cheap alternative.

    I hope you succeed as my circumstances (MS, Fibro, CFS, IBD) mean that shopping, cooking and eating can be unpleasant experiences (even though I love food).

    I do wonder how the transition from Soylent to an occassional meal of food affects the gut. Is it possible to do this without negative "symptoms"?

    Keep going as I can't wait to try it for myself here in Australia

  • Andronik

    Music and math are outlets for expressings ones talent like any other. Much like cooking. A delicate feat that requires differentiation, sound judgement and a bit of chance to succeed. I know no better expression of life’s joys.

    • kazagistar

      Excellent! I look forward to the day when cooking, like any other hobby, is optional. But I certainly don't have a painting studio in my house, and neither should I have a kitchen, if neither hobby interests me.

  • Jon

    The fact that there exists controversy about specific foods and diets – even among dietitians – should be all the evidence that you need that we don't have a good grasp of what nutrients the human body needs or how they interact with each other. Some dietitians thinks eggs are great for you, while others say they're as bad as smoking cigarettes. Some swear by low-carb diets, while others will say that vegan diets are best.

    These controversies wouldn't exist if it were just a matter of analyzing the components of foods; dieticians would simply examine the elemental components of each food or diet, and arrive at pretty much identical conclusions based on how closely the food/diet conformed to the "ideal" amount of various nutrients. The fact that this does not happen should tell you something. If there is such a wide divergence of opinion on the healthiness of certain foods among people who have actually spent their careers studying nutrition, what makes you so sure that you have figured out anything resembling the ideal mix of nutrients?

    • name

      There doesn't have to be ONE single formula of Soylent! That's the beauty of the concept! It can be easily customized to your needs, based on your lab results and other quantitative and qualitative data.

      Can you customize your own diet with food from the grocery store? Of course! But most people won't. They'll simply eat whatever has been advertised the most, rather than calibrating their diet to their individualized profile.

      Soylent is simply an easy way to calibrate one's nutrition very very precisely.

  • Adam

    My four-year-old was trying to make a paper airplane today.  He gave up because he couldn't do it.  To be fair, right now, he does suck at it.  But he's four.  He's still learning.  So he asked me for help.  "Daddy, will you help me build a paper airplane?"

    "Well son, we know a lot about aerodynamics and flight, but really paper just isn't a good material to use to make planes.  And really, there are still a lot of issues with drag and wind resistance, ensuring even and proper lift, balancing weight ratios.  And even then, all of that depends on elevation and weather and all sort of things we don't completely understand yet.  And the plane won't even always fly at the same elevation, so there are a variety of design considerations to take into account.  Really, we just don't know enough about flight yet.  And even if we do just go ahead and make it out of paper, there are people out there that are far more qualified to do this than I.  Here take a look at these YouTube videos of champion paper airplanes."

    If you believe that's what I told him, you're an idiot.

    This is what it feels like, to me, every time people start claiming "We just don't know everything about nutruition yet."  Or "our daily requirements change from day to day."  Guess what?  That doesn't stop my from stuffing the cheeseburger into my face.  It doesn't keep me from ordering my Thai food as spicy as they'll make it.  I still love ice cream.  BBQ, Smores, Halloween, Pitch-ins, Chili cookoffs…

    People are arguing that we shouldn't even try to make something like Soylent until it can be an exact match for our daily needs.  Perhaps we shouldn't have built airplanes until we could build warp drives.  The amount of pretention oozing from Soylent opposition (or agnostics) is astounding.

    I've seen arguments over whether we have a complete picture of our nutrient requirements or not.  How is this a refutation of Soylent but not of traditional diets?  You can't possibly know from a wide variety of foods that you're even coming close to getting everything you need at the exact time you need it, even when eating completely healthy "whole" foods.  Most people probably aren't getting half of what they really need.  But I can't speak for most people.

    I can speak for me.  My mornings right now consist of waking up to two kids that need help with everything in the mornings and a wife that takes so long to get ready (combined with sleeping as long as possible) that I'm typically on my own in that endeavor.  I help kids get ready, bathed/showered teeth brushed, dressed, rooms cleaned, beds made, fed, lunches made, school bags prepared and sent out the door along with arbitration, reconciliation, judiciation, reprimanding, punishing, praising, teaching, etc.  Once this is done (enough), I have about 30 minutes before I need to be out the door.  Shower, shave, grooming/hygiene, dressed.  On an average day, I'll have just enough time for something I can throw in the toaster.  Typically a PopTart.  On the rare occasion I have more time, I can make an egg or two, over-easy because any other way generated too many dirty dishes.  Lunch is a social event, and likely won't change even after Soylent.  This is nearly always going out with coworkers to whatever has received the most votes on our restaurant list.  Sometimes sandwiches, sometimes burgers, pizza, indian, chinese, japanese, sushi, whatever.  It's all over the place.  By the time I get home, dinner is usually already over because we need to be at soccer or teeball or whatever in 15 minutes.  I might get to eat half a pancake, slice of frozen pizza (cold), grilled chicken, pizza rolls, a hot dog, or whatever.  My story is not atypical.

    So, I admit it.  I suck at feeding myself well (and probably a lot of other things too).  I have the occasional great meal, but that's occasional.  Why not replace all of the typical trash calories with something far more balanced and healthy?  Why not have something sitting in a pitcher that requires zero thought and only marginally more effort than a PopTart that provides far more nutritional content than said pastry?  Why not save the time and effort making a meal for a time when I can actually make a really good one?

    The reviews and write-ups that stray toward the negative that I've seen are usually along the lines of: this stuff isn't all that bad, and I was just fine doing my normal daily 5k.  I didn't really miss my fresh beans and lentils, or grilled salmon and asparagus.  I lost about 2.2356923 (repeating of course) pounds during the week I tried this, but that can be chalked up to normal variance due to the total incline of my daily run and/or how much water I had that day.  Or maybe I just hadn't had a bowel movement yet?

    … Maybe this product isn't for you.  I can tell you, however, it's definitely for me.

    Where's the review of the guy like me.  A guy with a family, two young kids, closer to zero free time, and weighs in about 50-60 pounds over what they probably should be?  Someone who doesn't get out and run but maybe 2-3 times a year; someone more like the average person eating a shitty diet that's slowly killing them, sitting at a desk job for 9+ hours a day.  Right now,it sounds just fine to me being able to pour a glass, down it, and be done with hunger for the next 4+ hours.  Not having to even think about what to eat or when to eat it and still being able to take care of myself far, far better than normal is completely priceless.  Being able to do it for cheaper than how I eat now is all icing on a suprisingly nutritious cake.

    The road to improvement is incremental and iterative and, only very occasionally, speckled with dramatic progression.  So, let's iterate on food and see if we can't just make life better along the way.

     

    • http://www.onlyideal.com Steve

      Exactly. There should be no question that soylent is a great meal replacement in comparison to junk fast food.

    • Edu

      +1

    • http://vawnysullivan.com Siobhan

      Hear Hear!! Finally.. I think the paranoid reaction to Soylent is all about folks' terror of change—and in particular, America's food addiction. It's hilarious to see the reaction to this product! I’ve had severe “Gut” and food allergy problems for years, (diagnosed by several MD’s). And I’VE had to learn to laugh about the reaction of many to my restrictions—people literally harassing me because I won’t, (or more accurately—CAN’T) eat what they eat. Very few people will even acknowledge my medical condition no matter how long they’ve known me. Unbelievably, some have even gone out of their way to MOCK me. Imagine.. I was horrified by this not only clear lack of support, but out and out resentment about my unwillingness to conform to the dietary habits of my cohorts, UNTIL I realized what it was. Now I simply see it as fear based ignorance based on a refusal to even consider change.

      Deny all you want people, it's your relationship with food in general that's the problem. I've worked with addicts all my adult life, and the fear based responses on here are almost all about denial and protecting the proverbial supply. The U.S is so sick with food that the illness most responsible for driving up health care costs is Type II Diabetes. The preventable one. Please.. Any forward momentum that can reduce our ridiculous obsession with food-denial and disease in this country can only be productive.

      Personally, I'm anxious to try Soylent, In fact, I hope it’s eventually made available to our military for deployments, since they’re already subsisting MRE’s—and trust me, MRE's aren’t adequate.

      So look—Here’s a novel idea for those so terrified at the thought of giving up their food as lover, best friend, and confidant—DON’T. If you want to eat what you want to eat, have at it. I don’t think the creators of Soylent are going to  “Take over the world!” anytime soon.

      Thanks for bringing us back the POINT.

    • Jeff

      Thank you for this.

    • Luc

      I feel you man!!! Enjoyed reading your story, thanks!

    • Ash

      It's because people seem to think they have to switch to an entirely Soylent diet. I can't imagine if they looked at it as replacing a meal here and there they'd be as critical. Even if you are talking about eating it pretty much exclusively (in the case of starving 3rd world people for example), isn't it better than starving to death?

    • Tom

      Right on! This is me and I agree with you completely.

  • Colby

    Rob if you can hold up your argument why are you deleting comments from Tim?

    • Michael F

      I see Tim's comment above and a reply from Rob.  Were there other comments that got deleted?

      • Allison

        No, Tim didn't notice that his comment was in moderation (like everyone elses).

  • Luke

    Are the comments here being censored? I ask as Tim Ferris, who this article has been written in response to, took the time to read it and made a comment in response which has since been removed from view…

    • rob

      Tim's comment is above. I get a lot of spam, racism, and profanity so I moderate the comments. It is the internet after all.

  • Michael F

    Hi Rob,

    Trying to change how we do food is an incredibly hot button issue as you've learned.  It is socially acceptable for large segments of the population to subsist mainly on fast food burgers, processed mac & cheese, and high sugar sodas, but go and try to provide a food supplement that will probably work exceedinly well for 80% of the population and the trolls come out.

    One thing you and your team might keep in mind – where many of us get nervous is about the claims you are making associated with it.  It is not that we don't believe it has worked well for you and your beta testers and it is not that we don't understand and appreciate the vendor quals you are going through when working with your co-packer, but the claims could damage the brand and it brings out the troll in the most amazing people you would never expect it from (yes, I am talking about Tim "I question your ethics" Ferriss – whose work I had admired and put into practice on many fronts but after his latest adolescent behavior – yes that twitter post is what I am referring to – has driven me over to eye rolling).

    For those who support it (such as myself – I am anxiously awaiting my month's supply) and who understand just what FDA claims are (and, importantly, are not) and how labels get legally cleared, the broader claims make us twitch.  You are still new to this, but a good set of lawyers will save you extreme sets of headaches down the road.  One thing Mr. Ferriss did get right in his first volley was to get good legal advice on what to say and how to say it – and then follow that advice.  I have lived this (I am directly experienced in running programs that must meet stringent FDA and other regulatory body standards, including labeling and I have dealt with numerous start-ups run by very smart engineers and chemists who have never dealt much with regulatory compliance).  Very smart engineers and chemists get frustrated by the labeling part of supplements and drugs – but in our litigious and increasingly troll-infested society, those claims and how they are worded are important.  Backing off to more specific claims that relate only to contents and not indulging in claims that might be willfully misinterpreted – even if this is not a medical substance – will save you a lot of legal fees down the road.

    Plus, as some of the commenters above have pointed out, while there is good understanding of the biomechanics of how our bodies process nutrients, there are differences, some times vast differences, in how individuals or even entire population segments handle food.  Just by backing off on the claims to the technical specifics – and then letting the product speak for itself – you are going to save a certain level of headache.  A diet of 60%-80% Soylent, combined with certain complex foods would probably vault 80% of the people consuming this mix into the upper echelons of health and wellness – but please do remember that the outliers can be devastating when it comes to legal claims.

    I guess what I am really trying to say is that a lot of us want you and your team to succeed.  We want you to be around long enough, and not get bogged down by lawfare, to do a lot of good with this product.  The claims matter.  Take it from those of us who have fought these battles.

    Any significant product that might actually result in a massive change on any front always brings out the nay-sayers.  Keep up the good work.  Keep up the project plan you have in place.  There are a lot of us that take full responsibility for our bodies and look forward to this.  The cry-babies can go have a Big Mac and whine about how bad we are eating.  Let them.

  • Lee

    Regardless of all the concerns, which I can see from both sides and which all contain certain levels of validity, I think the responses here have shown the true danger of what can be done to a product like this. And that concern isn’t about the content of Soylent, biological reactions, etc. It’s the question of for whom this product should be developed.

    You’re a busy dad with kids and a tough schedule? You’re someone with IBS looking for relief? You wish you didn’t have to spend the time or energy cooking because you don’t enjoy it? Fuck off.

    How about the millions of kids in this country who can’t afford to eat? Or millions more across the globe? I’m sorry that your abundance of food has become burdensome to you. I’m sorry that your busy schedule makes working with food a chore. But to millions of others, this could be a life-changing, albeit imperfect, development.

    Kudos to the people behind Soylent. I just urge that you don’t forget, derail or diffuse your larger aspirations here in an effort to dismiss the critics.

    • Adam

      So … everyone that isn't starving can fuck off?

      The product is being developed for humans.  I don't see how one's socio-economic status has anything to do with their nutruitional needs.  In todays' society, in order for a product to continue to exist, someone has to pay for it.  I doubt that the millions starving will be able to do so.

      Your indicated goal is a noble one.  Your advice to not lose track of the potential this product has to feed the hungry is good.

      Your method of delivery is that of an ignorant asshole.  This too-busy dad is happy for a chance to be able to support the development of this product to ensure that not only do I benefit from the improvement in my daily intake, but so that other people can as well.  Hell, I'd pay an increased price if that were guaranteed to send a certain amount of Soylent into needy hands.  I already give thousands to other charities for this same reason.

      If everyone you just told to "fuck off" did so, this product would die.  How then would you feed the hungry?

  • Jason Treadwell

    You lost credibility when you stated:

     A human will take the shortest route to work, and cling to old ideas.

    You insult potential customers by insinuating they are all simple homogenous creatures with no desire or imagination, in order to sell a product that could be described as such. 

    If what you say is true, then mankind wouldn't have ever moved forward. Your self-importance and wisdom from up high are revolting.

    • rob

      Nonsense, all I was “insinuating” is that on some level we both seek efficiency. Of course we have desire and imagination. Rocks don’t take road trips. I just think it’s interesting to see parallels in different places. I’ve seen a lot of artwork comparing highways to rivers. Of course we’re not the same but the physics of it all quite comparable. Don’t you see? It’s the optimizations that move us forward.

      • Elias

        You were wrong about rocks too, by the way. The path they take to the bottom of a body of water is dependant on their size, shape, density, height above the surface of water, properties of the air before hitting the water, depth of body of water, temperature of the water, chemical purity of the water, etc. It's called Fluid Dynamics and any apparent relationship to human behavior or digestion is an illusion driven by cognative bias. Drawing inferences from these apparent relationships is a gross oversimplification of physical reality. Taking a complicated topic and cutting out all of the details does not count as "optimization", and it is the exact opposite of moving forward. 

      • name

        I get your point, Rob, but analogies are not your strong suit. They'll get the detractors riled up. It's the concept of Soylent and its associated imagery and implications that present a threat to romanticized notions of food, rather than the concepts and the science.

        Perhaps leave the poetry to the poets and stick to the engineering, which you're very good at.

  • mark

    Someone above says, " You can't possibly know from a wide variety of foods that you're even coming close to getting everything you need at the exact time you need it, even when eating completely healthy "whole" foods. "

    My first thought is: why should I care? People are not machines that need constant hourly microadjustments. 

    The basic premise of this product is steeped in obsessive and unnecessary theories about how we work and what we need.

    There are a lot of people out there, including some in my family, who are engaged in dietary tinkering or obsessions that are prompted by the quest for "health." They slap together a hodgepodge of powders, pills and processes based on "information" either passed on at the gym or via the Internet. Most of it has the veneer of plausability but the reality is it is not necessary. All it does is serve as an ego boost or mental salve so that the practitioner feels they are making more "healthy choices."

    We already know that a good varied diet over the long term will help you live to a ripe old age, assuming you don't pull a short genetic or cancer straw, or get hit by a bus. We also know that lots of people with shitty personal habits like boozing and smoking can live a long time too. There is natural variability in humanity that makes it challenging to find the "one solution" for everyone.

    Finally, a one-person two week trial is so far from scientifically sound as to be laughable, especially when the person doing the "test" claims their diet – fast food burritos and noodle dishes and diet coke, with powdered meal supplements – is in any way healthy or appropriate.

    Look, Do what you like, have fun, make and eat this grey slop as much or as little as you want. But you might want to think about why you are rationalizing solutions to "problems" that are created from what appear to be borderline obsessive disorders and bold assumptions about how our bodies work and what they need. No one is qualified to self-analyze how they feel they "perform" on this or any other product like it. That is far too subjective to be valid data.

    • Adam

      Your "first thought" was to agree with the exact premise the statement was made under?  The comment was made as a counter-refutation to a often repeated straw-man argument that Soylent can't be good because it doesn't adjust to be perfectly balanced for what your personal body needs moment by moment.  I'm merely indicating that normal food doesn't do that either.

      What you alude to is exactly my point.  Most people seems to forget, ignore, or overlook is that the human body can live on next to nothing.  It can live on trash shoveled in our mouths day after day.  It takes whatever scraps of nutrients that it can get from whatever input we provide and turns that into life.  It does a far better job of that when we provide it better quality fuel, which is where improvement can always be made.  And we should continually strive to learn and improve based on what we have learned.  Perhaps there'll be a need for a breakfast blend or an athletic blend or a "I just sit at my computer all day" blend.  I'll welcome that as well.

      But the people that decry Soylent as being too dangerous or pretentious seem to ignore the fact that what people eat, most of the time, is rarely healthy let alone being decent quality fuel.  Soylent doesn't need to be perfect for everyone in every circumstance in order to be great.  It merely has to be better than the average stuff we choose.  And that, I think, is not only feasible, but laughably easy to achieve.  If I want to go enjoy a steak, I'll do that.  But if all I need at the moment is this annoying hunger to go away and stop bothering me so I can get back to life?  Soylent seems, to me, the most efficient solution I've seen to this problem aside from fasting.

      On average, for me at least, Soylent will be a dramatic improvement in my daily intake.  My observations for the communities around me indicate that it would be an improvement for many.  Am I going to stop enjoying "normal" food?  Hell no.  But I'll absolutely replace the stuff of questionable value with a known quantity, especially when this alternative saves me time and money at the same time as being an improvement over my normal choices.

      I completely agree with you about not being able to adequately measure my body's performance on a typical fuel.  In fact, I know that I'm generally pretty terrible at noticing nuances even in my own physicality.  But sometimes choices are a little more obvious than alternatives.  I look at it this way.  PopTart or glass of Soylent?  Slice of Pizza or a glass of Soylent?  Philly CheeseSteak?  Cheeseburger?  Queso burrito?  Sushi?  Sometimes the answer will be Soylent and sometimes it won't be, especially when it's up against sushi. 8 )

      • mark

        You have the privilege of being able to make choices and to dream up what may be, for you, a nearly perfect food item.

        The very people who "need" to make better choices are not going to choose oatmeal water. People eat largely to satisfy an emotional or cultural need. Study after study shows that there are very few people who are able to consistently maintain a dietary restriction of any kind, and Soylent is a huge one.

         

        • kazagistar

          Have those studies attempted to vary the ease of the diet vs their regular diet? In my experience, healthy diets tend to be painfully difficult… Soylent is the first one that I have see that is legitimately easier.

      • name

        There is far more evidence to suggest that Chee-tos are bad for you than Soylent is bad for you.

        Which one is the Internet complaining about?

    • sbguy

      “No one is qualified to self-analyze how they feel they “perform” on this or any other product like it.” Ummm, yeah, they are. In fact we are the best ones to be able to analyze that. Is everyone good at that analysis? Nope, but we can get better, and we can come up with ways to measure it that are both subjective and objective.

      Like, am I sleeping better or longer? Do I wake up more refreshed or more tired? Do I have more energy? How’s my blood sugar (easy to test)? Am I fatter or leaner? How’s my hair and skin looking and feeling? Do my joints hurt? Can I run faster/longer? Can I lift more weight? How’s my mood? And of course you can get your blood analyzed for all the standard things, and do some research and figure out what the results mean.

      So yeah, we are qualified and can become more so.

  • Stuffe

    Rob, I just want you to know your idea and product is the shit and you are going to make a lot of money and a meaningful contribution to mankind. Fuck the haters what else could you wish for? They are all brainwashed by this new age spiritual bullshit. It’s the first commercially funded religion, ads on television preach empty words like “natural” or “wellness” so companies can sell more stuff we don't need, but the vast majority pay up and eat it raw food. Never mind the drones Rob, in the end your product will win by merit. But now get back to work, I want Soylent in Europe asap :)

  • Fernando

    I undesrtand Tim's point of veiw as part of everybodies's food culture. I would try Soylent but I would also feel safer if you have some sort of company to back your product up… 

    • kazagistar

      He does have a company. He just founded it.

      Also, you aren't supposed to take his word for it. You can read the ingredients lists in fine detail, find where everything was sourced, read the latest FDA dietary reccomendations, and see that it all matches up. Thats the best kind of trust; trust because you can verify.

  • Andreea

    I am not surprised of the general reaction to Soylent, and I fully believe that  "A human will take the shortest route to work, and cling to old ideas.", change is very hard to accept to humans, while we live in a world that is driven by change. 

    The Soylent hate is pretty useless, as, in case anyone thinks the product is not good for them, they can just not use it. At the same time, they can build constructive arguments against it, that can be used to improve Soylent even further. So, what is up with all the hate?

    As for Soylent itself, I find it as a great alternative for meals "on the go", basically most of the meals for any busy individual. It doesn't imply anyone should give up on food completely or not indulge into their own culinary pleasures. On the contrary.

    I love the fact that there will be a cheap alternative to the junk food that we currently put into our bodies and you can still enjoy the social part of meals if you want to. 

    Looking forward for Soylent to get into Europe and Romania. 

  • http://dreadlockedathlete.bogspot.co.uk Lara

    I hesitate to step in but I feel it is salient to the topics. I study gender differences in infectious disease settings. Inbred mice (so they have the same genes) show remarkably different responses to the same challenge. 

     

    In the same vein although we do largely have the same metabolic pathways the efficiency of each is high moderated by environment. That means identical twins can have significantly different metabolism because one of them works a night shift job. 

    That aside I do actually want soylent to succeed. Not because its a good product  but innovation requires a starting point. As more people take soylent, people like the busy dad, working mums etc. We will be able to see any deficiency disease occurring and alter as necessary.

    I think the ultimate market for soylent won't be the silicon valley testers we've seen so far but institutions that have mass feeding like schools and hospitals. If soylent can be as good as it claims/wants then it provides a perfect solution for cost effective , nutritional feeding.

     

    On a slightly more personal side note I've seen very little input from women. Fine but take into account that during the monthly menstrual cycle oestrogen alters digestion, principally increasing gut motility. This does make certain foods harder to digest causing GI discomfort. Can you factor that in? This would simply require a more diverse testing group.

    My final concern is vitamin and essential mineral interactions. It is known the absorption of some vitamins blocks the uptake of others. If I am obtaining the majority of nutrients (calories, vitamins and minerals) from soylent can you ensure, or show the tests, that's demonstrate how much of the intended dose I actually absorb?

     

    Soylent is not for me for many reasons, but I wish you success all the same.

  • http://Metabolicgiant.com Richard

    I've just begun to dig into metabolic pathways and I can tell you the first thing I found was that people have metabolic issues that are quite different. Check out MTHFR, up to 45% of the general population carries it meaning that up to half of the people this product will go to wont be able to metabolise folic acid very well. Folate is also not easy, but unconverted folic acid may cause cancer. Some people can't process sulfur or have increased needs for vitamin C and B6 – obviously most people are unaware of this but that doesn't change the fact that getting synthetic folic acid from this product and cutting back on sources of natural folate like spinach and bananas could be quite unhealthy.

  • Tamas

    Rob, 

    Your idea/product about food gives 90% of the human population better nutritional value compared their intake now. Don't get bothered by the critics, who after commenting, going to the store and stuff some starchy shit into thier face. 

    Keep walking, 

    Bests, Tamas 

     

  • Andrew

    Can you please address potential long term issues to our digestive system. Humans have a complex digestive system used to breaking food. By elimating that process of digestion, what are the unseen effects. A huge portion of the bodies structure would become redundent and the potential disease like side effects would be come astronomical.

    • name

      Why doesn't McDonald's have to address "potential long term issues to our digestive system" from its fast food hamburgers?

      Humans have been living on feeding tubes for decades now. Should the designers of feeding tube formulas have to answer for why their products are incomplete?

      • Andrew

        Are you comparing the product to McDonalds or test tube feeding?. McDonalds has been proven to have woeful long term side effects, and yes it does have to address the health effects of its products. Test tube feeding is done as a worst case scenario for people who cannot function under normal circumstances. Soylent is being being marketed as a food replacement for potential fit and healthy professionals..

        Lastly, that was a complete non-response and an avasion of a specific question. Please provide me with a scientific address for my initial questions. If I am to buy the product then I would require sufficient answers to my concerns. 

         

  • http://ajwalton.com AJWalt

    First of all, I'd like to congratulate you for creating a novel solution to a problem that doesn't really exist. It seems to me that millions of years of evolution has already provided us with the nutritional blueprint to live a healthy life to a ripe old age.

    But without a doubt, the health industry needs a new billion-dollar idea, so why not this?

    I have the utmost confidence that your product will make you fabuously rich and your lack of ethics (or ability to accurately self-reflect) will result in a ton of people getting hurt.

    I don't think you're a bad guy, but I do think you're deluding yourself (and your future clients)

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/timferriss/9684046788/?utm_source=buffer&utm_campaign=Buffer&utm_content=buffer3311b&utm_medium=facebook

    • name

      Wow. He's not doing it to get rich. He's trying to solve the problem of food, which occupies too much of our time, energy, and money, with the amount of food that's wasted, the amount of packaging that's thrown away, the amount of fuel it takes to ship food around the world, and the basic difficulty most people have with getting adequate nutrition. If he can solve just one of these problems, he'll have achieved greatness. Soylent is designed to work on virtually every problem associated with food at the same time.

    • kazagistar

      If he gives his recipie away for free, how exactly is he going to be massively rich? The reason the health industry is so full of bullshit is because they thrive on overcharging for "secret recipies". Rob can't charge much more then the price of the ingredients and process, or people would just make it themselves: he built his buisness model to force himself to be honest with his customers.

  • Edu

    Get to Europe soon pleaseeee !!!!

  • Jumbybird

    One of the few automatic pleasures that humans have is eating. You can keep your chemical concoction. I'll continue to eat my curries, my pizza, my mangoes and apples. I'll continue to eat my Filet o Fish and fries at McDonalds. I eat these because they give me pleasure and nutrition. I will not eat your powders unless I was stuck on a sand bar with no vegetation or on a spaceship to mars with no solid food.
    PS What sort of test have you done on your products to see whether they're safe or adequate nutrition.

    • name

      You haven't read anything, have you?

  • BigMtnBkr

    Like with anything new, you are going to face alot of negativity from the Hater crowd.  As far as Tim Ferris goes, he's nothing more that a shameless self-promoter that is more upset that he didn't discover this "hack" than anything else.

    You're on the right track. Focus and keep moving forward. When Edison discovered electricity people called it a circus side show because they didn't understand it.

  • Dave

    Rob, thanks for the article.  Don't be put off by naysayers – just keep doing what you are doing.  I'm looking forward to trying Soylent in the (hopefully) not too distant future.

  • Pingback: Solyent May Not Be So Bad: The Whole Food Fallacy « NW0.eu()

  • http://www.jonsymons.com Jon Symons

    I didn't think Tim's blog post really needed a response. It was largely positive and, even though I had heard of Soylent before, it got me more interested in this concept. Since reading it I have been experimenting with an "all liquid" diet, as I believe digesting solid foods, in most cases, takes more energy that it provides.

    The problem I have with Soylent, is the soy. Too much research to suggest the stuff is indigestable, so I've been using alternative powders, combined with fresh green juices.

    Best of luck to you though, I think you're on to a great concept and if you can avoid reacting to everyone that has an opposing point of view, you will do very well with this.

  • Ersi

    I've no issue at all with you or anyone else eating however you choose. Personally though, I love cooking, I love having a creative outlet that I'm really pretty good at that I'm kinda forced to do most days for practical reasons. I love that feeling I have to do it all the time has made me get good at it! I love enjoying it. I love being able to justify it a bit to myself even when I'm really busy because it'll keep me healthier and I get to eat what I really want/cook something for my lover that she really wants and will be good for her. I wouldn't have thought this would change that, otherwise I guess I'd currently eat more ready meals than I do – but I do feel a little concerned that something like this (if it got as big as you seem to hope) could be seized upon by attitudes inherent in employment – and taken up with an expectation around the hours we work etc, breaks (or the lack of them), rather than giving us more time for (other) joyous things. If I have a concern about your success that's it. Just a thought from observation.

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  • Tim Davis

    Why do so many people find it necessary to write huge posts about how and why they feel that Soylent is a bad idea? How many of these people are actually knowledgeable and credible nutritionists actively conducting research? Do they actually think they are going to make a difference? Do they think that once it starts shipping they will be forced to start using it? It's simple, if you don’t agree or do not understand enough to make a decision, just shut your trap and wait it out or go away. Soylent will either be huge and feed allot of hungry people, or it will not. Either way, it’s happening. And I can’t wait to try it!

    If you can’t see the big picture….open your eyes!

    • -hms-

      Not a criticism of your comment, but just an opportunity to share some info that most people overlook: The term you’re probably looking for is Dietician. The term “Nutritionist” is a totally fluid, self-determined and unregulated title. Dietetics is a regulated field that has a governing body and credentials with educational and training requirements.

  • Ken

    Thank you for all your hard work. I understand some peoples concerns. It's a normal human reaction to change. That said, we should not fear change as it leads to human advancement. Succed or not, much will be learned from this. To simply be negative and fear any idea without trying would be the day humans no longer exist.

  • Sam

    A smarter response would be to acknowledge physiological differences (metabolic) among individuals and a smarter business model would be to offer Soylent in different formula's based on variations in activity level and body composition – that would likely address the criticisms currently being directed at your product.  The idea that everyone has the same metabolic needs is not found in any evidence based research and defies common sense. 

  • J

    While I understand the utility of Soylent, I disagree with the framing of this article. It isn't necessarily that "whole/raw/organic" foods are shown to be better that is preventing me from considering purchasing Soylent. The deal-breaker for me is that, despite Rob's best intentions and careful design, this product is inevitably missing some aspects of the human diet that aren't understood to be nutrients. Teas, herbs, and spices are recognized as important to mitigating undesirable symptoms such as inflammation. Despite their recognized uses, we just don't have an understanding of their full effects on the human body. What level of theobromine would you include in Soylent, Rob? Are its effects compromised by being put in solution with the other ingredients in Soylent? Furthermore, what is its half-life in the body? Is it valid to mix everything in Soylent all at once, rather than distributing out nutrients over the day, so as to avoid a spike/drop effect?

    I can't help but feel that we don't know the answers to the last few questions I pose here, and until then I'll remain drinking my tea and cooking my meals. Furthermore, I will enjoy the meal-times I have alone to think, or those in which I am with friends to socialize as part of my dining experience, because life just isn't about fitting the most work possible into a day.

    • name

      How can we be absolutely sure that combining meat and dairy is safe? Kosher regulations state that it's forbidden. Everyone who has ever eaten a cheeseburger has died.

      Therefore, cheeseburgers should never be eaten.

    • Danny Schmidgall

      So use Soylent for 95% of your diet, and the other 5 can come from those inevitably missing aspects. Nobody is saying Soylent is 100% perfect, they’re saying it’s better than most existing diets, and, in most cases, cheaper and easier. Progress is progress, it doesn’t have to be perfection.

      Sorry for being 9 months late to the party….. I hope this is still relevant.

  • http://socialmemorycomplex.net Jeremy Weiland

    For the record I totally support your efforts and the spirit of innovation you're pursuing.  I hope you succeed.

    I do think there are good scientific arguments for the superiority of whole foods to processed foods, not least because they are what our bodies have evolved to consume.  That can be a reasonable and accurate data point without compelling anybody to choose one side or the other in this debate. I appreciate your open-mindedness to all kinds of choices when it comes to nutrition.  The shrillness of the opposition is unfortunate.

    However, I honestly find your analogy of upgrading the computer instead of being patient troublingly reductive and incomplete.  It would more accurately apply to a project to replace the human body with a better vehicle.  Of course, that would be a gargantuan undertaking, spanning perhaps hundreds of identifable systems crucial to human experience as well as biological life.  Nothing in life is risk free, but our understanding of risk comes from models that inherently reduce complexity so that we can reason about choices.

    What you are doing is replacing many complex, particular pieces of the system with a less complex, homogeneous piece, and arguing that there's no scientific or reasonable argument against doing so.  But there is one, and it's well understood in places where systems are respected: ecology.  If it were just about reducing the food to its constituent parts and hitting all the nutritional bases, fine.  But complex systems don't usually work like this.

    In Europe they adhere to what's called the precautionary principle.  Introducing pollutants into the enviornment is understood as inherently risky and unknown.  So one goes to great lengths to understand all the known variable, but one does not simply assume that one has a grasp on all the variables, due to the sheer complexity of the system.

    I applaud your work because it's a good way to test our understanding of this system.  I don't applaud it because it is, prima facie, "good" to do this.

  • brujaja

    I have no objection whatsoever to your project or your product, but I do have one word of advice:  "Soylent" comes from "Soylent Green," a movie from 1973, as I'm sure you know.  While it's possible that you (the makers) may find some ironic humor in your choice of the name, the fact is that in the movie, Soylent green was a *bad* thing.  It was made out of human corpses.  And whether consciously or unconsciously, it may have something to do with peoples' negative reactions to your product.

  • name

    The main problem Soylent's detractors have is that Soylent is a one-size-fits-all formula. It doesn't have to be!

    The potential of Soylent comes from its customizability. Soylent is food hacking! I hope that someday you'll be able to put your personal data into a website and get a fully-customized Soylent formulated just for you. Soylent can easily be calibrated or titrated based on whether your levels of potassium, glucose, etc. are high or low. You can even put in information about how you're feeling and an adjusted dose will be automatically computed.

    Just like the way Rob had joint pain until he added sulfur (I think) to the formula, the beauty of Soylent is that the formula can be easily customized to the individual and continuously revised.

    Can you do this with real food? Of course! It's called "diet fads" and they don't work. Let's try breaking down food into its component nutrients and using hard data from blood labs and the like to get a better understanding of human nutrition.

  • Jon

    <sarcasm>Yeah, that will make the launch of your product so much more successful if you listen to everyone on here and create a version for every one of their demands!</sarcasm>

    The vast majority of the world consumes food without trying to figure out what their highly personalized needs are. This product will not take anything away from them and will most likely improve their lives because of the simple fact that they aren't trying to include all the nutrients they need.

    All of the other hyper-anal dieticians can continue doing what they are doing.

    Nobody is forcing you to eat this!

  • Aimee

    Whoa, dude, you are Super-Cartesian. Do you know that this materialistic idea that we can be broken down into simple matter and can therefore predict all response similarly has only been around for only the past half-millennia? Get into some traditional esoteric knowledge and out of the black and white for the benefit of all. Subscribing to limited paradigms is dangerous.

    • Neil

      Sarcasm?

  • TruthMonger

    The name SOYLENT is just dreadfully poor marketing. Anyone who is a film buff (or over 45) knows the name Soylent comes from "Soylent Green," a 1973 film in which a mysterious food substance is found to be made from the bodies of humans killed for population control. The infamous climax of the movie is where Charlton Heston breaks down and exclaims his big realization: "SOYLENT GREEN IS PEOPLE!!! IT'S PEOPLE!!!" Even people who have never seen the movie know this notorious line, famously parodied by Phil Hartman in this classic 1993 SNL clip.

    Copyright implications aside, why would any sober entrepreneur want a product name with such a disturbing association? When it comes to creating a desire for the product, the name SOYLENT fails hard, as does Human Chow (likening people to dogs?).

    How about a descriptive name like LifeShake, VitaShake, or  NutriShake; or a flashy name like Swig or PowerGulp; even a funny name like Hurry Slurry would be more alluring than SOYLENT or HUMAN CHOW.

    Please contact me for further marketing consultation. ;)

    • name

      CamelCaseWords are so 2000s.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CamelCase

    • Neil

      I think a lot of the interest around this product has been generated by the name. I know for myself, if I heard of a product called LifeShake I would just associate it with the "health food" industry and ignore it.

    • Kati Maya

      I have no problem with the name. If you’ve ever studied any Dan Kennedy material you’d realize that it has a lot more marketing potential than “LifeShake” or whatever (plus I think there are already shakes named with some of those names, I know for sure a NutriShake exists)

  • Mabel

    I think everyone's jumping on this bandwagon too soon.  While I like the idea of a generic food that I can just eat and go during busy times of my life, I'm going to reserve judgment until I see some real science backing it up.  Besides, I do really enjoy eating good, well-prepared food; I just hate doing the dishes.

  • Serdar

    I can't wait until soylent is a multi-national enterprise so I can simply buy it in Germany or here in Turkey!

    I wish you all the best rob you are definitely changing the world to the better

  • K1

    As a staunch Tim Ferriss fan (and typically defender whenever those "arrogant self-promoter" epithets starts getting thrown around), I'm sad to say he lost a lot of credibility with me today. It's not too unsurprising that he's cautious about Soylent (or being seen as endorsing Soylent) – as Rob details in this post, it represents an extreme sea change in how we see ourselves as humans, providing no other option than to accept the notion that we are nothing more than a bundle of chemical elements assembled in an orderly (and sometimes not-so-orderly) fashion. Rob's response was, I believe, needed, not as a rebuttal to Tim's points (as an aside, I find it odd that no one has called out Tim yet for characterizing it as a "so-called 'rebuttal,'" when Rob never actually used that word, while quibbling over quotes Rob is attributing to him), but as a general public statement acknowledging the deeper philosophical issues inherent in Soylent and addressing the concerns of many.

    When Tim took the post as a personal affront, posted a tetchy comment then blasted all over Twitter, and assumed without cause that it had been deleted and he had been censored, though, that was the overreaction of an ordinary, hyper-sensitive Internet celebrity, not the open-minded entrepreneur I think we thought we knew. Really, Tim, why exactly should Rob feel the need to attack you personally over your tepid, tentative thoughts on a product he's already cleared seven figures on? Sure, you have cachet, but you're not going to make or break Rob like so many others you've retweeted out of obscurity (of note, I first discovered Soylent before it was even called "Soylent," when you retweeted his initial blog post back in the spring). Calling into question his ethics and credibility, as if he actually had something to gain from misrepresenting the great Tim Ferriss was low and unnecessary. This is a great idea with great execution that is being built into a great enterprise. You don't have to be one hundred percent on board, but you should at least be able to respect that (and, you know, an apology might not be out of order).

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  • http://www.daveenjoys.com Dave Mackey

    Thanks Rob for the post. Very interesting. I read "Eat to Live" by Dr. Fuhrman, and I think he advocates that there is something in our foods that goes beyond their chemical constituents. Have you read his book? It wasn't a type of vitalism, imho, it had to do with…well, I just can't remember…I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on his book.

    I know Soylent isn't made as a "medical treatment" but as someone who suffers from OCD/Depression/ADD, I'm very interested to see how a Soylent diet would affect these…My family has a lot of "allergies" and I'm interested if removing some of these allergens from my consumption would make a big positive difference.

  • Jon

    To answer the question "Why are critics more worried about Soylent than they are about the typical unhealthy American diet?" My answer is this: A Big Mac might be very unhealthy, but presumably you aren't eating nothing but Big Macs. Even if most of your meals are unhealthy, most people tend to switch them up enough that you're at least getting some different nutrients from each meal.

    Soylent, on the other hand, is being marketed as something that can replace meals altogether, which can be the sole component of your diet. Therefore it's at least potentially more dangerous than Big Macs or other unhealthy fare. If you aren't getting the nutrients that you need from your Big Mac, you just eat something else for your next meal. If you aren't getting the nutrients that you need from a product that claims to have everything you need, you could develop serious problems.

    And from a liability perspective: If someone becomes seriously ill due to a lifetime of fast food consumption, it's difficult to point the finger at anyone single meal. If someone becomes seriously ill due to several months' of Soylent consumption, it's quite easy to identify the culprit if they've eaten almost nothing else during that time. IANAL, but I think at the very least Rob needs to be much more careful with making offhand comments like "I suppose you could live on it entirely, but why would you want to?" Statements like that could be used against you in court if anyone ever becomes ill from Soylent.

    Furthermore, your analogy that advocating for actual food (as opposed to elemental components) is like a pseudoscientific belief in a "vital force" is inaccurate. For the sake of argument, let's assume for a second that Soylent actually *does* contain all the elements of a healthy diet, in the correct proportions: Are you 100% sure that the mere processes of digesting food and excreting waste play no important role in our health? And if so, what are your credentials for believing that?

    Finally, to the people who say that those of us who are wary of Soylent are just luddites who don't want people to experiment with new approaches to nutrition: Nothing could be further from the truth. Back when it was just Rob doing it, I thought it was a cool (if a bit dangerous) experiment in bio-hacking. By all means, experiment. Find a couple hundred volunteers, get some doctors to conduct a scientific study, and write up the results in a respected health science journal. But that kind of experimenting is very different from releasing a hyped-up product to the public and saying "Have at it." The latter is dangerous.

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  • Jeff M

    Started reading before I knew these ideas were in support of financial gain.  Whole food fallacy?  You're looking to make money off of a product named after a fictional one which was made from the dead.  A fitting name, as what you're marketing to people is basically chemical sludge.  If you think (non)science can replicate what nature has done, you're an idiot.  I may eat worse than I should too often, but I'll be damned if I turn to "Soylent". Gross.

  • http://alexiscreuzot.com Alexis

    Great read as always Rob. Most of your arguments are sufficient to prove that consuming Soylent won't be taking a risk (Soylent diet vs. average western diet, other species fed synthetic food..).

    It's a shame that a lot of people feel that those arguments are all necessary and try to discredit the whole idea on specific details when this is clearly not relevant to the overall argument.

    Keep up the good work. We expect a lot, not so much for the product itself, but for the idea.

  • SalmonGod

    It's really amazing to me the kind of hostile nitpickery this subject brings out in people.  It's astonishing how many people I've seen in this comments section and elsewhere who I know to be perfectly intelligent people suddenly resort to the sort of hostile nitpickery you'd expect from a pretentious teenager harrassing a high school teacher.

    I've been waiting for a product like this most of my life.  I simply don't enjoy food or any of the work associated with it.  I don't even think it makes sense as a social/cultural lynchpin.  I'm incredibly excited for Soylent.  Cannot wait to get my hands on it and simplify my life so I can do more meaningful things with my time and money.  I'll likely be much healthier, too, since my priorities have often had me eating unhealthy stuff throughout the years, because it was easy and affordable.  

    Criticize my priorities all you like.  I and many others like me will be happier and healthier people, and I wish those who are simply different would just lay off.  If you're not interested in the stuff, then it has nothing to do with you.  

    As for those who are oh so very concerned about any liability issues Rob may be facing – he's heard it a million times already.  Seriously.  He's doing a fine job handling himself.  Picking apart his every word to find some vulnerability that someone else might take advantage of just makes you look like you're hiding attacks behind fake concern.  He says everything right as far as I'm concerned.  He's honest about his intentions and beliefs, fairly acknowledges people's concerns, and sounds professional and intelligent without resorting to being corporate pr-level sterile with his language.  If he took a lot of the advice that I've seen here, he would end up sending cultural signals that my critical awareness of modern media and corporate culture have trained me to be suspicious of.

  • http://sqoon.tumblr.com Sqoon

    > Soylent Green
    >It’s not real food
    >It doesn’t work

    Whatever man.
    Rob, keep doing what you’re doing. You’re on to something.

    I for one, being a student, who has a hard time affording his own food and other things thanks to student loans, I find this as a very viable option. This is brilliant.

  • Jim

    Many commentators are pointing out that the name Soylent was formerly used in a movie, and that it was a food in that movie.  Those commentors apparently think that Rob was not aware of the movie, and that his choice of the name was an amazing  coincidence.  They are describing the movie to Rob.  I find that to be very interesting.

  • 神経衰弱

    I suppose you could live on it entirely, but why would you want to?

    Maybe you should change the names of the purchasable Soylent packages on the website to reflect this sentiment. Currently the names "One Week Supply of Soylent", "Two Week Supply of Soylent", etc. with the subtitles "enough Soylent to replace one full week's worth of meals", etc. seem to suggest that you're supposed to be taking it as a full food replacement regimen, though it doesn't say so straight out.

    To avoid confusion, why not say call the package "21 meals worth of Soylent" instead of "One Week Supply"?

  • Anastasia

    Rob, having read all above I'd like to mention few points:

    – most people reflect their own problems. In average, people like to talk about what they think, what is good for them, what is bad for them, what they approve/don't approve… They reflect their own problems/understanding/misunderstanding, etc. So, look at this in a positive way – you get a free poll results on the perception of your product by various customer groups. That's vary valuable information which you may work with for your further product marketing.

    – any product needs a proper marketing approach. So, following the received feedback it might be good to look for the product image improvement (e.g. name, target group, claims on the problems solved by the product).

    – legal machine can kill any product. Therefore, the legal advice on the marketing approach and claims might be very useful.

    – it's not the time to make the conclusion whether the product is good or bad. The various tests (e.g. for the mentioned above cases) might be very beneficial for both addressing customer's concerns and product improvement.

    – 7 months test might not identify good/bad results. Depending on what kind of dietary life there was prior test, it might be the body "detoxication" so to say. Meaning that body gets rid off bad stuff/cleanse itself as well as receives more concentrated (more packed with vitamins/elements/proteins/etc.) food. Similar good health effects are claimed for any diet switch. Therefore, it might require 2-3 years trial (when the body gradually got "cleaner" and got used to "new" diet) to identify the real effects.

    – in general, there are many people who are angry and cruel (maybe without realizing it). As well as there are people who do not like somebody's success in any kind fo business. That's the world we live in. Therefore, I wish you not to loose the grap on your business idea and get most out of any situation.

  • Wes

    So Rob, you asked "Why should I be expected to make my own food?"

    Whether it was expected of you or not, you in fact did make your own food when you invented Soylent.

  • Haters Gonna Hate!

    Holy cow!  Haters gonna hate, huh?  I've also experienced some of this hate while telling family/friends about Soylent!  How bizarre!  It seems like every comment on here has some sort of "advice" for Rob.  Hey — let me clue you in — if you're so smart, why don't you make your OWN product?!  "I support Soylent, BUT… <hate> <hate> <hate>".

    Ya'll are hillarious.  Rob (+team) didn't have to do any of this.  He taught himself everything, developed the formula himself, experimented on himself, took the risks himself… and now everyone wants to tell him what to do!  Like you all are experts!  Give me a break.

    Godspeed Rob!  You rock!

    • SlyBriFry

      ^^ RIGHT ON.  I’ve been experiencing similar reactions from people.  Everyone becomes an expert, yet no one has done a damn thing themselves.

  • james

    Just keep doing what you do and bring soylent to market. I’ll be buying it. thanks.

  • Liang

    For many people it is simply not a good idea to quit eating burgers and fries when you can finish the meal with merely a cup of bland Soylent. It’s too efficient for them to have a meal within a minute even though it is much healthier than the burgers and fries. The most junk food lovers enjoy the fast food not because it fast and do not care if it is junk. The problem is that we are encouraged by the popular culture to indulge our taste for delicacies which by definition concerns more on the taste rather than health or efficient, and we are so proud to have a no more nutritious but much more expensive meal in a foreign restaurants. This is where the “The Whole Food Fallacy” comes. It is the first time in history we had a chance to quit the entertaining meal and to spare more time and energy on a full life.

    “Food is great, but most of the time I find what is in on my computer or in my books far more stimulating than what is in my refrigerator.”—- Rob Rhinehart

    I think the target market of Soylent is mainly those themselves like Rob Rhinehart who enjoy entertaining his mind rather than his taste buds or the one who is just too busy to enjoy a meal. And the target market is bound to boom quickly in a developed society where people are too busy to have a good meal.

  • D

    I am very pleased to have learned of your product. Having digestion isuues forces me to use meal replacement methods or take a pill & what issues come with that 'solution.' I find the current meal replacement options ineffective & inefficient. Having previously worked in a lab portioning viatamins, minerals & the odd weights of raw materials such as the

  • D

    proteins & flavor for a big name supplemental drink company I find it more than plausible for your product to be feasible. I think your methods are correct. Consulting with industry professionals outsorceing etc. As long as what you put out to the public is as safe as possible with use of quality ingredients as well. What doesnt come with risk these days? Certainly the crap most people consume do. Being in healthcare currently I see many inadequacys & ineffiencies. You do the best with whats available. nothing is absolute. Your product appears to adress my needs. Short being wealthy & or a pro athelete who has the time, money, knowledge & motivation to eat right? I feel your product has the potential to do more good the harm as long as done correctly which I feel you are doing. Many execs dont go to the lenghts you are. You have the motivation to solve a problem many people have without the greed & I applaud that. Hopefully once your company is better established you will be able to lower the cost making available to more. Anways I am just a simply person felt that was needed. hope you succeed.

  • dok

    Keep up the good work. As a Master's student that has to work 40-50 hours a week on top of studies, soylent will CHANGE my life. Not all of us can spend hours shopping, cooking, planning etc. In addition the money savings would allow much more flexibility in my lifestyle.  

  • Jack

    Keep up the good work rob. Haters gonna hate. 

  • Jeff

    There will always be naysayers. But look at the amount of support and pre-orders Soylent has been getting. There is a huge demand for convenient nutrition! Hell, I’ve been eating nothing but cheerios, top ramen, beans and rice, and the occasional Ensure shake, and have no doubt that Soylent would be a vast improvement over my curent diet in terms of nutrition and balance.

  • JLTS

    I, for one, am on the same page as you, FWIW.

  • http://singedrac.livejournal.com Singe

    “We don’t know how proteins fold”

    Uh actually we have a very good understanding of how proteins fold. It’s a computationally-expensive solution for any particularly large protein, but we can and have and do simulate proteins folding all the time.

    “Pets live on synthetic diets and are much healthier and long-lived than their wild counterparts.”

    First off, most of pet food comes from farmed substances. It’s not fully synthetic food. Secondly, they’re healthier and more long-lived mostly because they’re sheltered from exposure to disease and predation and the need to expend energy to obtain food and water and other daily needs.

    I think Soylent is an excellent idea, but there are some things here in your post that make you sound a bit ignorant about science and how the world works in general. It doesn’t do much good to your cause. It would also help for you be a bit less defensive about your product.

  • Theo Speciale

    My friend, you are an awesome human being! Nice words!

    the concept of soylent is fantastic! i´m a food lover and even enjoy to cook sometimes. But i totally understand you point of view! we are always trying to make life easier! why not do the same with food what we do with almost everything and every aspect of ours lives!? why not!!?

    Congratulations!

    keep the good work and i hope that you bring soylet to brazil an to the rest of the planet

  • Bobby Harakat

    people are afraid of new stuff, new ways of doing things and new technologies. i don’t really care for opinions, Soylent sounds pretty good on paper and when its available i will use it as my primary food source.
    so far the biggest question i am faced with while discussing my plans for using soylent are:
    you don’t know the long term effects

    indeed i have no idea what a long effect it will have on me but it can’t be any worse that eating GMOs

  • Alex Risdon

    I am totally for this! It would free up so much time, as a student I cant get enough of this. Cooking as healthily as I can on little time and money is difficult, often meaning it is put second. I hope you can bring this to the uk soon! Best of luck

  • pyrodice

    A couple of interesting things, here:
    1) Have you looked into the economy of scale, to see at what point you maximize production efficiency, before you hit the law of diminishing returns?

    2) Has anyone considered using the VERY human technique of feeding it to a pregnant woman for a day or two, and using her resultant cravings to estimate what a body at peak sensitivity is telling you might be missing, through commonality? With my wife it was always meat and ketchup. She needed salt, vinegar, and protein CONSTANTLY, she said.

  • Zen Kitteh

    I just came across this product today and it is a dream come true. For years I have pondered over the issue of food and nutrition. Nutrition and “food” are needed, but cooking/cleaning sucks and is rather time consuming. Since I was a kid I imagined a future where someone can make a shake or take some pills to get their needed nutrition for the day/time frame. I believe Soylent is a step in the right direction for sure. I can’t wait till it is out in full production!

  • Hadar

    Really wanna get some soylent, but only thing I don’t like about it is way too many carbs. Once you get rolling make a low carb( or no carb!) for us poor type-1 malfunctioned diabetics. ‘Till then I’ll be forced to make my own.

    Oh, and I just ignore all the commotion.

  • Happycrow

    Can’t seem to actually get the cart to work to make an order (soylent guys, if you’re reading this, drop me a line and I’ll order….), but these objections are silly. Some people eat food for the pleasure of eating food. For the rest of us who just want body-fuel and to relieve allergy symptoms and what-have-you, this is exactly what we’re looking for.

  • Nic McCool

    Will Soylent be available with variable macro combinations? As, for example, I’m a powerlifter who is currently on a high protein, high carb diet (270g, 400g respectively) and the current lower protein variation of Soylent wouldn’t meet my nutritional goals.

  • MG

    I think it’d be better if you left the evolution and philosophy stuff out of this. As a fellow engineer I find the Soylent idea real exciting -as I also fiddled around with the idea for years but never got around to it, mostly because the expected scepticism of people scared me- but I’m also a muslim from Istanbul, Turkey. Cause and effect are the main principals of this universe in my belief, so I agree that the human body is a very complex machine, but the godless evolution and world history bits make me feel uneasy. So taking care in those subjects is my kind suggetion, and I hope you succeed in your ultimate goals.

  • Buffora

    Ah FUQQ Disqus!!!! It killed my comment!! :( Damnit, I hate it!

    In short, I was going to say: Please add scientific references to all of your claims in your next blog posts, don’t come over like a marketing or salesman. And stop making yourself enemies, by saying things like: we’ll eliminate groceries or disrupt their market. None of of your claims are provable, when you say: “We care more than any competitor, or we’re 5x times better.”

    • Buffora

      Oh and stop being sarcastic on a product blog!!
      >> I suppose you could live on it entirely, but why would you want to?

      • Buffora

        I want to buy it, but wher do I do that?
        How much does it cost to ship 5Kg of Soylent to Germany?
        Are dosages and instructions included?
        How long does 5Kg last?

  • Buffora

    PLEASE ADD XYLITOL!

  • btodder

    Yeah I’m a poor college student so I can’t wait for this to be affordable and available to me. I hate cooking when I’m hungry and I’m a little hungry most of the time. I try to do better than loading up on carbohydrates which is neither cheap nor healthy in the long term. I don’t starve myself, I’m just always putting off eating because I get caught up in my work or other activities and It usually leads to eating at inconsistent times. I imagine that with Soylent I’d eventually sip it throughout the day whenever I feel the urge and won’t have to worry about taking an extended break to grab lunch, what to make for dinner or when to fit in grocery shopping. I won’t have to deal with dish-washing as often and I’ll save time preparing my food doing it once a day in the morning. I imagine this would free up time for me to actually go out and eat socially with friends more often.

  • Ryder

    Actualy, I think that Myoplex Deluxe can be had for about $6 a meal, and it’s about identical to the 0.8 formulation… so it’s a strong competitor… BUT, Soylent at just over $2 a meal is a breakthrough… and ever so slightly more complete (oils, vitamin K, etc), though I think it has a LOT of protein… 80+ grams per meal.

  • CattleHerder

    Way too much logic and reason. Most people don’t like it.

  • Anna V

    I’m not sure where this message will fit in best. Rob, this is an important message for you. Please read it.

    I live in Africa and the malnutrition of children is a major problem here. If you could make this Soylent available at a price so affordable that it could be used as part of school feeding programmes, it will change millions of lives.

    Some schools have feeding programmes and these programmes have been shown to improve school attendance in impoverished areas. However, because food is expensive and preparation needs sufficient utilities, not many schools undertake to feed students and these programmes can often offer little more than maize porridge or soup. It’s better than nothing (sometimes the only meal a child will have that day), but not nutritionally ideal to say the least. And as mentioned, lacking in far too many schools.

    I also want to comment on state hospitals, overcrowded and lacking resources. If feeding patients becomes easier and more affordable, more funding can go towards medicine and hiring additional staff. If Soylent is as nutritious as you claim, it will surpass the meals patients normally receive in public hospitals (all those I’ve been to at least).

    Apart from that, this could be a wonderful supplement for people living with HIV, since this condition requires a diet that many cannot afford. A good diet allows those living with HIV to be healthier and, therefore, have a better quality of life and be consistently active contributors to the economy.

    Please have this product exposed to sufficient external research and make it affordable so that it may be considered by governments and NGOs as a viable solution for widespread malnutrition.

    You claim that Soylent is cheap to manufacture. I know that you need to make money but please consider how you can change the world if you wanted to. You will meet resistance and it will be tough, but please try.

    Thank you.

  • larry

    It may be that the concepts of harmony from a music/wave theory perspective may one day shine a light upon the recipe of ‘human synthesis’. Each of the elements sharing various harmonic points with one another all along their outward propogation of overlapping waves. Those points in turn doing the same that may eventually give rise to complex high order harmonies. Or in lay terms… that new strain of mold in the bottom of the trash bin. Variety!

  • Ann Onnimus

    I appreciate what you’re trying to do, but I do have some concerns about the nutrition standpoint.

    Because while we all do need a lot of the same things, some of us need some things a lot more than others do.

    Take iron for example. Not to put too fine a point on it, but women between 12 and 45 tend to bleed monthly, and by doing so, we lose a relatively larger amount of iron as compared to men. We need to replace it, and we therefore need more of it. Men, on the other hand, require a good deal more zinc than women do… it’s in seminal fluid provided by the prostate, so… well, logical conclusions can be drawn, but I imagine that teenage boys and young men need quite a lot of zinc by comparison.

    Or take someone suffering from hereditary hemochromatosis. This is a disorder that causes a person to absorb life threatening amounts of iron, to the point that they may need to be have blood taken on a regular basis so that their own body doesn’t literally give them iron poisoning. Other than controlling iron intake and having an amount of blood drawn regularly, there is no way to treat this condition.

    Or for another example, pregnant and nursing women need more protein and calcium than a woman who is not pregnant or nursing.. because they’re trying to grow someone else a whole new complete nervous system and skeleton.

    Also, how do you account for the fact that having certain minerals and vitamins together in the same meal can cause some not to be absorbed, at the expense of others? Iron and calcium are, again, a great example, because for whatever reason they use the same mechanism of absorption and so interfere with each other if they are taken at the same meal. And there are some things that aid absorption too… you can take iron OR calcium with a vitamin C to improve absorption of one or the other, but if you take your iron tablet with a glass of milk, you’re not going to benefit yourself at all. So, how do you know you’re not going to give yourself a slow deficiency of some kind? Or poison yourself over the course of several years?

    Yes, we have all the same building blocks, but I would strongly dispute the notion that this is a “one size fits all” dietary replacement for literally every human being in every life stage and situation. That’s just not possible, not by a long shot. And there’s literally no way you’ve tested this on enough people in different life stages and situations for long enough to prove that it is. You don’t know yet if the women who decide to replace with Soylent will wind up with anemia in 5 more years due to insufficient or unusable iron, or if it will provide enough USABLE calcium for young women who take it now to not wind up with severe osteoporosis when they hit their 50s. There are a lot of results of low-grade deficiencies or slow overdoses that can take a long time to show up.

    I’m not saying this is a bad concept, I find it intriguing. But I think you need some more R&D, some caveats for people with certain bodily disorders, and maybe a few “specialized” formulas for certain people who are in certain life stages that require adjustments to the formula.

  • KERR

    It’s a free country. Those that love taking photos of food can keep doing that. Those that find food overpriced, unhealthy, slow, and being hungry an annoyance can have something quicker, easier, cheaper and healthier! Not to mention it can’t be easy to get every single vitamin and nutrient required from even the best diet. I can’t wait to try it – it will be a massive improvement on my nasty quick/lazy eating habits. Also how many people may find their ailments are improved since they didn’t realise they were deficient in an element contained in Soylent?

  • Marlin May

    Have you considered marketing Soylent in US Food Deserts – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_desert – or to schools participating in Federal school lunch programs? The nutritional need exists.

  • Don Joe

    “Everything is made of parts.”

    No. This fundamental tenet of Western philosophy (and Object-Oriented thinking) is flat-out wrong. Everything _looks like_ it’s made of parts when you’re looking at it from the perspective of a small brain with a small attention span that can’t directly perceive all of reality at the same time and see it for the indivisible whole that it is. The idea of “parts” (or “objects”) is purely abstract, it only exists in brains and only because brains can’t represent in themselves all of the details of the universe simultaneously. The more scientists study the “links” and “interactions” between the so-called “parts” of reality, the more they realize there are so many links that the whole idea of dividing things into “parts” in the first place is highly dubious.

    “THE BODY IS NOT A MACHINE

    [O]ur central metaphor for the body is fundamentally flawed. The body is not a machine. It is something very different, a soma shaped by selection with systems unlike anything an engineer would design. Replacing the machine metaphor with a more biological view of the body will change biology in fundamental ways.”
    http://edge.org/response-detail/11361

  • chamel77

    Good read. When I told people that I was trying Soylent, almost everyone’s response was to jump to, “why would you give up food!?” I sounded like a broken record telling people it was for those days when I didn’t have time to prepare food or didn’t want fast food. I usually have it in the morning before work, occasionally I bring it in to work for lunch, then have a “normal” dinner.

    It’s usually the same people who think the marketing of the product is terrible by calling it Soylent—while I think the name is pure genius.