Surviving on Soylent

Isiah
Written by Isiah

Soy­lent is a bev­er­age that you can drink and you can keep drink­ing it, and you might nev­er be able to stop drink­ing the stuff, sad­ly enough. I’m very sor­ry.

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.

DAY 1

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.

DAY 2

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.
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.
 
The bath­room. 
 
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.

DAY 3

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.

DAY 4

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.
 
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.
 
Thank God.

DAY 5

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.
Edi­tor, Cul­ture