Back in February, my girlfriend flew over to the States from Australia. She promptly made a terrible decision and decided that, hey, since she can actually get it now, she should try Soylent.
“It’s not good,” I informed her, remembering the articles and Reddit posts I had perused during the initial buildup of hype surrounding this miracle liquid food that would replace every other food in your life, forever.
“It’ll mess you up if you get the wrong formula or whatever.”
She looked at me, then, and I expected her to maybe take this statement into account, to weigh her options before willingly choosing a less fortunate road to tread upon.
“Shut up, idiot,” she finally replied, before ordering a box of powdered Soylent.
After a few days, our new diet arrived in a white cardboard box filled with packets of the powder. The instructions and nutritional facts were printed on the cardboard box itself, meaning I couldn’t toss it, and there would be a big box of powdered “Formula v1.7 Soylent” on my kitchen counter for a long time. It also came with a two-quart pitcher. The instructions were simple: fill the pitcher halfway with water, dump a packet of powder into the pitcher. Close it and shake it for 30 seconds. Fill it with more water. Shake it for 30 seconds. Open it, check it for ‘clumps’… Shake it for 30 seconds.
I learned that day that my arms are like that of al dente spaghetti, and I do not like to shake things for 30 seconds, nor do I like shaking things at all. But here we were now — a minute and a half later — with a pitcher full of yellowish-white sludge that still had clumps in it.
My girlfriend and I poured a cup of the mixture. I offered some to my roommate, and I can’t remember whether or not he decided to partake in the fantastic new food that millenials love, but I hope that he didn’t, because nobody deserves this. I took a drink.
The texture was about what I expected it to be.
Phlegm, mixed with clumps of crunchy, powdery nothingness.
The flavor was strange, though. Initially, it tasted like a slice of vanilla cake, and I was actually excited about that, because hell, I’d drink a cake-flavored drink for the rest of my days if it meant I’d never have to worry about balancing my diet properly. This flavor passed, though, and the residual aftertaste and smell left in my mouth was that of old, potentially dangerous algae.
“Let’s refrigerate this,” she said softly, as if saying anything else around the Soylent would cause it to come out of the pitcher and strangle us.
For the rest of her time here, my girlfriend ordered from UberEATS. After she left, I poured the untouched mixture down the sink.
Jump forward a few months.
My girlfriend’s third visit here has just ended. She’s on her way back to Australia, and I have no food, nor do I have any money for food. I don’t have any money for anything, really. I’m in the negative. I eye everything in my kitchen, judging its nutritional value.
Will this small container of sage keep me alive? Can a 230 pound, 6-foot-3 man survive off of a single can of tuna for an extended period of time?
The situation looked grim.
It was at this point that I realized there was a white cardboard box full of untapped foodstuffs in the corner of the kitchen.
I had to. There were no other options.
I mixed a batch of the Soylent up around breakfast time, spreading a yellowish powder around my kitchen like a coke dealer with a bad twitch. I took a hearty drink of the mix and gagged involuntarily. Whatever sweetener they had used to mask the taste of Hell was not working in the least, and I promised myself that after everything was said and done, I’d never touch this vile sludge again.
Thankfully I had made a promise to myself to improve my physical prowess since the last time I had sampled Soylent a few months back, and I was capable of actually shaking the pitcher this time, so I didn’t have to contend with clumps of God-knows-what getting stuck in my gums and the roof of my mouth. Score one for me.
I went about my business for the day, and was almost immediately stricken with a horrendous bout of nausea. Flexing my stomach muscles and groaning, I surfed the Internet for the catalyst of my pains.
“It’s all of the nutrients,” wrote one user on the official Soylent forums, which was generally full of people complaining about the taste of Soylent or recounting their tales of weaning their children on it. “Your gut flora just isn’t calibrated to digesting Soylent yet. Give it time.” And time I gave it, despite the fact that the Soylent was clearly trying to skip rope with my intestines.
The forum also tracked users’ tales of “going 100%”- slowly removing other elements of food from their diet until all that remained was the all-inclusive nutrient slime that is Soylent. I felt as if I was going about my diet the wrong way at this point, since day 1 consisted of me not having any food at all, so I had nothing to remove in the first place.
As I went about my day — pain subsiding — I realized that the usual shakiness I’d be getting from hunger wasn’t there at all. A glass of Soylent was enough to tide me over for a reasonable few hours.
I was impressed.
At lunch, I downed another glass, weathered the storm of uncomfortable stomach pains, and didn’t have to worry about being hungry. I could see the merit in people “going 100%” on Soylent — not eating anything, just sipping cups of the stuff. Never worrying about when to eat, how much, or what was on the menu. It was almost utopic in its conceptual design, but when it came down to it, I really believe that nobody in their right mind would be chugging down nutri-glue like this of their own accord.
Except me, of course, but that’s because I had no other options.
I woke up the next day to two strange, new things:
1. My stomach no longer had a dull ache to it from Soylent consumption.
That was quick.
That was quick.
2. I was craving Soylent.
The craving was odd to me because it was only a day prior that I had a whirlwind of negative emotions toward the stuff, but I figured that because it was the only thing that had tided over my hunger throughout the day, my body had subconsciously grown to rely on it.
I popped into the kitchen and had my glass, and…
It was bizarre, but it didn’t taste as bad this morning. It tasted more like when I had first, originally judged the flavor a while ago — a slightly less sweet birthday cake. I finished my glass quickly and made my way to work, marveling at the idea that my body may actually grow to enjoy a solo-Soylent diet.
Lunchtime went smoothly with another glass of the stuff, and I felt a lot more active than I had in recent days. It felt good that my only necessary sustenance was just a glass of Soylent. I didn’t feel sluggish or weighed down as I would have been after eating my normal spectrum of food options: a weird hot dog from 7-Eleven, some kind of sandwich from a local bistro, a questionable wrap from a cheap deli…
The only thing I had was Soylent, and it was doing well for me.
And then — like a wave of death — another human necessity called to me. It screamed my name, cursed my family, and demanded penance for my sins.
I had only taken in liquids for the past two days, and a high percentage of those liquids were just blended nutrients.
I feel that — as my reader — you should not fall victim to letting your eyes wander over the many, descriptive yarns I could spin in regards to the typhoon of shit that I let loose, or the pain that suddenly roared back into my body as my stomach — now empty of anything — reminded me that it had been in pain the entire time, and simply had no wiggle room to be in pain.
I feel that this is enough for you to read. Moving on.
I had to press onward, however, and upon arriving home I had my dinner glass of Soylent. Despite my prior engagement with Satan himself in a bathroom stall, the flavor still reminded me of a cake, and it seemed to be telling me that everything was alright. I didn’t have to worry — Soylent was here for me, and I’d be so full of nutrients again.
Soylent was like an abusive spouse that I just couldn’t escape from.
I now eagerly anticipated the day my paycheck came in so I could buy real food.
I woke up and slammed my glass. Nothing was different.
Lunchtime rolled around. Another glass. Nothing changed.
On my way home from work, I realized that I had an apple in my backpack. I bit into it.
It tasted disgusting.
I looked at the apple. It was fresh, red, juicy. It was a perfect apple, and to my brain, it was abhorrent. What?
I looked up my concern on the Soylent forums and subreddit. Had my Soylent diet set in quickly enough that conventional foods tasted poor in comparison to the shake I had been surviving off of?
I found no common stories; no testimonies. Nobody had this problem, it seemed, but me. Perhaps — I thought — it was purely psychological.
After all, I had ended up pulling a complete 180 in regards to the Soylent’s flavor very quickly. Who’s to say my easily malleable brain wouldn’t also try to convince me that anything that wasn’t Soylent was some kind of poison?
Sadly, I took another bite of the apple, and then put it in the trash. It wasn’t worth it.
I had managed to go through an entire pitcher of Soylent, so in the morning, I made another batch — this time, in my bathtub rather than the kitchen. This was to alleviate the cleanup of all the stray powder that would inevitably get everywhere except for the pitcher it was supposed to be in.
As I shook the pitcher and felt like I was giving science itself a big, stupid handjob, I realized that a lot of the powder in the bathtub, once it had hit water, had immediately hardened.
I tried to push it toward the drain with a finger, but it took really digging into it with my fingernail and getting under it in order to move it. The amount of leveraging I needed to unstick the moistened powder from the bottom of the tub was impressive, and I thought about my stomach’s insides being weighed down by the adhesive vestiges of powdered Soylent. I shook the pitcher twice as hard, cracked it open, poured myself a glass and shot it down. Breakfast was done.
And then, I realized that my paycheck had come in. Excitedly, I paid my bills, told my landlord I’d be late on rent, and went off to work.
I had a shitty 7-Eleven sandwich for lunch, and it tasted horrendous. Soylent had ruined shitty sandwiches for me, sure, but could it ruin the one thing I had powered myself off of pre-Soylent for years?
Could Soylent have ruined my taste for sushi?
Anybody I have ever physically met up with can attest to the fact that — when given the option — I will choose sushi trains as a gathering spot, lunch meetup, or just because I really fucking want sushi. I love the stuff. I will excitedly tell the people I am with that my order of uni is a sea urchin’s gonads, and — as they look at me in shock — I am already swallowing that sea urchin dick, which has been submerged in soy sauce and is chock-full of dick nutrition. I once had a friend with me who ate two plates, and was forced to wait and make smalltalk with me as I ate eighteen plates.
I love my sushi.
As it turns out — and I’m making this following statement the de facto point I’m trying to get across with this article, mind you — Soylent is a goddamn fucking bastard piece of shit science experiment by a fuck man of Science who loves Hell and piss for shitty little fucking fuck fucker fucks fuck piece of mothergoddamn piss shit of Ass
because Soylent made every piece of sushi I ate taste bland and unappealing.
because Soylent made every piece of sushi I ate taste bland and unappealing.
I continued to eat the sushi, however, and at one point sipped out of the small cup of soy sauce I had poured just to coat my tongue, as a reminder to my body that this was more important than Soylent.
Toward the end, my brain remembered exactly what it was that I was eating, and I began to regain my initial love for the dead, raw fish of yore.
I was done. I was free, and I had money for food.
Soylent, the “Millenial’s Juice”¹, was no longer my only option for food. It sat in my fridge, yellowing.
That night, I went to another sushi train place and it tasted beautiful. I almost wept, though I’m sure nobody would have understood my prior dilemma had I explained it to them.
¹ Nobody actually calls Soylent the “Millenial’s Juice” except for me, I think.