Do any of you remember Soylent Green? You know, the movie where the majority of the world’s population eats Soylent Green wafers as their only subsistence? The film came out in 1973 and the story was set in 2022.
Well, the movie’s dates very pretty close. For a movie. They were only a decade off.
What do I mean by that? Well, since 2012, there’s been a company selling food like that—except they’re not wafers, they’re bottled drinks. Guess what the company is called?
Of course, they’re not marketing the drink as cheap rations for the unwashed masses, like they did in the movie. On the contrary—they’re marketing the drink to people who might become billionaires. Their target consumers work in the start-up sector. You know, the Steve Jobses and the Elon Musks of the future.
So why is Soylent so attractive for techies anyway? Well, with it, you don’t have to (a) plan a meal, (b) prepare it, (c) eat it and then (d) clean up after. (Note: as far as movies go, techies seem to hate all four steps.) Consumption of Soylent, on the other hand, has only two steps: uncapping the bottle and drinking. Apparently, the drink provides all the essential nutrients needed in a regular meal. That’s already a step ahead of most breakfasts and lunches in many places. And to top it all off, it takes something like a minute to finish the whole meal. For workaholics in the tech sector, an extra hour is like a gift from heaven.
The question is, of course, how much will the drink change our society?
Not by much, I would think. Don’t get me wrong. The idea is brilliant and all, but I don’t think anyone in their right mind other than nutritionists and testers are going to drink Soylent three meals a day. (Apparently it’s possible to drink the stuff long-term, but I don’t suggest you try it.)
Well, first, most people like some sort of variety when it comes to food. To have the same dish day in day out will kill some people. For some, even having the same dish once a day will kill them.
Then there’s culture. Many cultures value the act of sitting down for a meal together. It promotes bonding. That gets a little cut short when eating the meal (ahem, drinking) takes one minute, always tastes the same, and lacks preparation or cleanup.
All its faults aside, however, I can see how Soylent would be useful.
Its original marketing pitch “Chug it down to save time” is still valid. Even if you aren’t a workaholic, drinking Soylent could potentially shorten your workday by an hour—a boon on Fridays when all you want to do is flee the office.
I’m not sure how long the bottled drink lasts before going bad; however, Soylent also comes in powdered form. Which means that by eating the stuff, you could potentially survive an extended siege—not that that situation is all too common anymore. But Soylent, being bottled, does pack better for hiking and traveling than other sorts of food—maybe it will become a popular emergency supply. After all, it is a whole meal in a bottle.
In the end, I can’t pass too much judgment on Soylent. I haven’t actually tried it. And while the concept does sound interesting, I personally think that my liking of food outweighs any desire to be more efficient.
But for those of you who hate chewing, I recommend you drink Soylent for the rest of your lives.