An Open Letter to Soylent Haters - The bigger picture


#1

Soylent is the future, the problem is people don’t like change. We are nothing more than a bundle of complex CHEMICAL reactions. As long as we get all the chemicals needed to sustain such reactions, we will be alive and (potentially) healthy. PERIOD. You think in 200 years from now when the population is 20+ billion that everyone will all be able to eat healthy organic whole foods? F**k no! Plus look what we’re doing to animals like cows, chicken, etc. Its sick and disgusting if you think about it. We have enslaved and tortured entire species to feed off of, species which likely have at least some resemblances of emotions, pain, etc. Think of all the pain and suffering we are causing billions of animals every day in order to eat “normal food”… Normal food is already starting to cease to exist, think of how hard it is to get food that is not tampered with in some way - GMOs, preservatives, antibiotics, processed foods, etc, etc. Food as we know it will eventually be a thing of the past. Its just part of the evolution of the human species, and its a good and necessary transition. Soylent 1.0 is probably not the answer, but it is a step in the right direction. There are no flaws with the IDEA of Soylent. Thank you to the creators of Soylent to bring this idea into the public consciousness, you are single handedly steering the evolution of the human species in a more sustainable direction. If Soylent turns out to be a huge success and you continue to build twords the ideal that I am speaking about here, then there is no reason why you cant significantly improve the state of the world. Maybe not tomorrow, or even in 10 or 30 years, but nonetheless you are creating a ripple that can potentially make an enormous difference down the road. What do you think is more important, our prehistoric attachment to food that has helped us survive a million years ago, or ensuring that the world has a source of sustainable and complete nutrients to survive. I say the latter is more important.


#2

“There are no flaws with the IDEA of Soylent.”

I’m a supporter of Soylent, but this made me laugh. It reminds me of a very wise saying:

Anything that works in theory, also works in practice. In theory.


#3

This board needs a downvote thingy.


#4

Nice post, my friend. I’m always amused by how many people there are who are compelled to put obstacles in the path of progress. History is replete with these folks: “If man were meant to fly, God would have given him wings.” “Man wasn’t meant to go faster than a horse can run. - said in response to locomotive rail travel.” I had a friend who believed it was immoral for man to try to live on Mars. “We just weren’t meant to travel in space,” he said. (Soylent would be a pretty tasty and nutritious meal for an astronaut.) I think the majority of people are naysayers. And haters gonna hate. We’ll likely see a few more “Soylent Denyers” before it’s all said and done. :wink:


#5

Thanks for the support, @DuckHunterss!

That’s a variant of one of my favorite sayings too – the only difference between theory and practice is that in practice, there is one.


#6

We’re always wrong though and we never know how wrong we are.

The orange juice study found that orange juice spikes blood sugar less than sugar water with the same concentration and types of sugar as orange juice. The study executors were careful to ensure the sugar water had the same concentration and volume as the orange juice. So why the difference? The two largest ingredients in orange juice are water and sugar and these were controlled for in this experiment.

One could argue Soylent (or various DIY versions thereof) are the best we’ve got. I think that’s a fine argument and it makes Soylent and OK product. There is certainly a better formula possible, we just don’t know what it is. If you have the time for them (note: this is not most people), natural foods are certainly better than Soylent.

More and more studies are finding multivitamins are not helpful. What Soylent is: a multivitamin with calories, so you don’t need to eat anything else. This is similar to Ensure and other products.


#7

Citation Needed.

I replied to this in another thread, but a commonality between these multivitamin studies seems to be “multivitamins are mostly for filling nutrient gaps, not curing heart disease”, and “supplements aren’t the same as a full balanced diet”.

Yes. Ensure and multivitamins aren’t a full solution, because they were designed as supplements, and to be taken alongside “real food”. Soylent was not designed as a supplement. It was made from conception as a workable meal replacement for anywhere from 0-100% of dietary input. It is fundamentally different from a multivitamin. I will agree that if you already eat a great diet, Soylent probably won’t do much for you. It also won’t be worse for you. Assuming it works as all of the plans, beta testing, and analysis suggests, it is at the very least equivalent to a balanced diet. Which means that if you eat less well than that now, it’s a step up.

And to address your core claim: Yes, Soylent shares similarities with a multivitamin. The meaningful difference is that Soylent has all micros and macros, plus calories, in ratios optimal for health. A “multivitamin with calories” just has a handful of things you might possibly be deficient in, but no guarantee that it’s what you need. It’s like the difference between trying to shop for a full living room set at a dedicated furniture store vs a rummage sale.


Edit: as a secondary point, DIY recipes. Many use multivitamins as one ingredient, but I believe that all of the complete ones have a lot more in them than “a multivitamin plus calories” :wink:


#8

I’d like to see a copy of this orange juice study.

Orange juice is quite clearly a much more complicated substance than sugar-water. Even if you control for the various types of sugars in juice, there are still quite a few other things in OJ. Not having read the study, I can’t tell if the researchers tried to make accurate synthetic orange juice, or merely replicated the carbohydrate profile.

The thing that I keep coming back to, over and over and over again in my pro-soylent arguments is that it’s an experiment. The naysayers are right – Soylent is untested over the long term. There may indeed be problems with it. However, for the benefits involved, those of us who support soylent are willing to take the risk.

A second, corollary argument lies in the fact that the human body is far more adaptable and durable than we give it credit for. The health-food/anti GMO/anti-gluten/vegan industry, such as it is, seems fixated on this idea that the human diet, for the majority of people, is somehow deficient. This is fallacious; human diet has been “degrading” (by their standards) at the same time that life expectancy, morbidity outcomes, and quality of life have been drastically increasing. It is certainly possible that there are marginal benefits to be gained for the average person by reducing intake of things like gluten, or avoiding GMOs, etc. But the cost of that marginal utility, to the average consumer, is so high that it outweighs the benefits.

The frustrating thing is that Soylent actually gets at almost all of the actual goals of the healh-food industrial complex. It’s essentially vegan, it’s essentially gluten-free, it’s sustainable, it’s ethical, it’s nutritionally complete… but it’s lacking in whatever metaphysical essentialism the whole-foods crowd requires to validate their life decisions.


#9

That all said, please, let us know when the IPO is going to be, Rob. I want to get on board. :smiley:


#10

Everyone I’ve spoken to about Soylent reacts the same way: Initially that hilarious “Soylent? Is it people?” one, then after a while they ask for more information.

I’m no expert, but I try to explain the concept as best I can and tell them that many people are living on it for long periods with regular health checks.

Then the cynicism kicks in, usually I’m told, “Yeah, but long term they’re probably doing untold damage to themselves.”

I think they can’t accept that someone who is as young as Rob, and with him not being a nutrition specialist, can ‘invent’ a type of nutrition that seems to work well.

Then they seem interested, and ask about the taste, the texture, the ‘point’ of it. I tell them about cynical journalists and magazines who try it for a week or month and are pleasantly surprised by it.

Finally, I tell them that one of Rob Rhinehart’s initial ideas for Soylent is to look at the possibility of feeding the world’s starving millions, which (in the affluent west) does seem like a good idea - even to the naysayers. They seem more ready to accept that idea, because while we have a choice about what we eat, the world’s poor do not, and if Soylent will travel, store and feed people cheaply, then why not ‘test’ it out on them?

Finally, the person I’m talking to will more often than not, shrug and say, “Well, seems interesting. But I like food too much. I wouldn’t do it.”

I’m hoping to change people’s minds about this a lot more. But until I get started and begin my own Soylent consumption, the people I talk to aren’t convinced. I guess they want to see it working right in front of their eyes.

And I do hope tat the Soylent Corp remember the part about feeding the poor - even if they ship out to local homeless. That aspect of it alone would become a revolutionary, historical event.


#11

I’ve basically decided not to talk about it with most people yet (wife excluded). I figure when they first see me with my shaker bottle, or when they notice that I seem to have more energy…then would be the time to bring it up, because any nay-saying about “you’ll probably hate it” won’t even come up, because I have hard facts (personal experience) at that moment already. Seems like it’ll be easier to defend/explain in that scenario than it would be when neither of us have any personal experience yet.


#12

I’m actually looking forward to being an advocate for Soylent. I’m in law school; we have a huge number of students interested in global social justice, human rights, environmental issues, etc.

Almost all of them have absolutely rejected the idea every time I bring it up. I’m looking forward to demonstrating Soylent’s efficacy and getting involved in pointing out the potential global benefits of having truly sustainable, nutritionally ideal food for human beings.

And yeah, I picked up the shaker bottle and a t-shirt as a way of advertising. :smiley:


#13

In theory, Theory and Practice are the same. In practice, there are some differences.


#14

I’ve had the same reactions - my general reply is to remind them nobody said people have to go all-or-nothing. I’m not replacing all of my food; just the boring ones I make for no other reason than to remain conscious :slight_smile:


#15

The significant factor in science that has brought it to such an esteemed position in the 21st century is congruence between theory and practice. This is because the theories -the models, that is- are grounded and anchored to reality by evidence. “Good science” is defined by this attribute and “bad science” is defined by the absence of this attribute.

Engineering, as I personally define it, is problem solving using science. It is applied science. Your perpetual motion machine can work in simulation all day, but it doesn’t matter until we test and verify it in real life. Or more plausibly, your bridge may work in theory, but when you build it, it better work in real life or people’s lives are at risk. Because the success of engineering is bound to real results, our utilized theories reach congruence with “how stuff works in the real world”.

In science and engineering, the “theory” was never intended to be static and unchangeable. If our theories didn’t work in practice and we never admit it, then that would be dogma. "If your theory doesn’t fit the data, then fix the theory! "

I think @DuckHunterss is rightfully pointing out the profound potential of Soylent by saying, “There are no flaws with the IDEA of Soylent.” The “idea of Soylent” isn’t that complicated. Your wise saying is funny enough, but I don’t think it is enough to dismiss @DuckHunterss and my excitement.

The idea of Soylent (or one of them) is that we can get what our bodies need without all the hassle and waste of conventional food. That is the IDEA of Soylent. Do you propose this might work in theory, but not practice? Suppose Soylent doesn’t work. What then? The kicker! If the proposed solution (Soylent) to the problem (food as a hassle, expensive, or unhealthy) turns out to be flawed, then the proposed solution (Soylent) can be updated to resolve the flaws that were previously there. This is the spirit of inductive models in science and results oriented solution development in engineering.

Soylent will always retain the potential to resolve criticism and bridge metabolic gaps where conventional foods, or conventional diets/regiments in particular, will comparatively become just traditions under more rigid, ancient paradigms. Those paradigms were great solutions for particular problems at the time, but Soylent is the generic/flexible solution to end them all.

Put in other words, Soylent is such a flexible generic solution to food, that there is in principle no diet in existence that can permanently one-up it’s benefits. If there is anything in nutrients that some other diet provides that Soylent currently cannot, then all it takes is a little molecular sprinkling and Soylent is back on top. Is there a toxin or allergen in Soylent we haven’t found out about yet? Remove/replace that particular ingredient. This molecular flexibility is a huge deal, and a huge advantage. Is this supposed to not work in practice, somehow?

It is like @DuckHunterss said: The big picture. Even if this first run of Soylent is not the same thing as what people 100 years from now drink, it is the principle of Soylent, the IDEA of Soylent, that is significantly more effective than regular food, and bound to rock the world.


#16

I agree it is important to remind people that going all-or-nothing isn’t necessary, but I am personally going all in.

Someone saying “But I like food too much” is equivalent to me hearing “I like pooping too much.”

I resent the minutes upon minutes every day I have to sit on my butt with my legs falling asleep trying to excrete something that is 100% wasteful to me. Food is holding me back. Food is holding us all back. Soylent - free your body. I am so on board with that.


#17

Frosty, thanks for an interesting, in-depth post. Good stuff!


#18

I’m in med school and some of my classmates have been ribbing me about it (with underlying interest). It will be exciting and interesting when I start to use it. I definitely enjoy food but I’m not one of those people who lives to eat. Soylent 90% of the time with the rest spent on recreational eating with friends seems ideal.