Life improvement attempt: Soylent

While browsing Facebook I encountered a post titled, “Proudly Made with GMOs.” It was posted by two conservative-leaning friends of mine, one of whom is a scientist and another who is very scientifically literate. It’s a provocative title, especially given the current collective disapproval of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) and biotech companies like Monsanto who produce them.

The article was very enlightening. I have it linked so I can refer back to it. But the fact that it was written by Soylent also intrigued me. I had heard about Soylent before, and how the creator was frustrated at the difficulty of eating well while very busy (and often ‘cooking for one,’ as they say). So I checked the website to see what this engineered food was really about.

The website, it turns out, had only very basic information. I know the food is genetically engineered for maximum nutrients, sustainable production, and that it is vegan. I understand that it’s designed to require minimum time and effort to prepare for the busy person, and that it’s sustainable and inexpensive so that it may one day help end world starvation. Both laudable goals, but lacking in practical information.

Google helped me to find some testimonials of people who went food free, subsisting entirely on Soylent for a period of time. In fact, there was a wealth of data to include medical information from before and after the some of the trials. Some were conducted by moderately active people (that’s me!) and some by very active people, including a pretty serious runner. Mostly the reviews were positive.

At this point I became immensely attracted to the idea of simplifying food. I am married with three young children, I run a manufacturing plant that operates 24 hours a day, and I am in the process of getting my EMBA from a nearby university. I am very busy. And my daily work does not have structured meal breaks. Like many people in my position, my eating (and sleeping) habits tend to be the first to turn unhealthy when faced with so many obligations. So if there’s a food that is portable, convenient, and nutritious–that’s something I’d like to try!

I know, by the way, that if I just decided to do it, I could eat better with real food. I could, for example, make sandwiches ahead of time. In winter I often spend an hour on a weekend making chili which I refrigerate at work to eat throughout the day. But given the choice between spending time making lunches ahead of time, or waking up early to eat breakfast, I would rather spend my little time at home with my wife and children. Trying out Soylent is purely a decision of convenience.

So I ordered a weeks’ worth, and I’m waiting for it to arrive. I’m eager to have a week where I’m not wondering, “Do I have time to drive out to lunch today?” I want to keep a record of the trial here, too, for memory; also as a testimonial if anyone is ever interested. So we’ll see how it goes!

I think it’s important to note that I have decided not to replace ALL food with Soylent; I plan to take it as a substitute for all weekday meals except dinner. This is so I don’t screw up my digestion with only liquid food, and also because my wife and I try to do family dinners together. This is mostly so we spend at least some time as a family in the midst of our busy lives. But also I think the family dinners will provide some variety in my diet and allow me to continue to demonstrate good eating habits to my children.

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