Kosher Soylent: Here's Why


#1

So, I’ve followed the discussions on kosher Soylent, and there’s this big question that people ask that hasn’t been handled yet: Why is it so important that Soylent be kosher?

Here’s why: Kosher restaurants are few and far between. A kosher consumer won’t buy a fresh cooked meal at a non-kosher place, and will typically resort to pre-packaged food. However, most kosher pre-packaged food is junk food. Things like chips and candy are easy to get kosher.

But something that is kosher nutritious and could serve as a full meal on the go are actually really hard to come by. Like, basically impossible. If Soylent were kosher and widely available, I would never have to worry about eating junk food for lunch again. It’s a bid deal for a lot of people.


#2

We have considered it, but because we don’t own the production lines in which we produce it’s not one time yearly fee, but a fee per production fun. This would spiral out of control. We are still working on it though. I’ve forwarded your thoughts onto the team to add fuel to the kosher certification fire.


#3

Fees?!?!? NO! Rosa should be concentrating on ways to make Soylent LESS expensive, not more.


#4

Broadening their base by making the product accessible to a larger portion of the public is a VERY good way to harness efficiencies of scale. You seem to have forgotten that the whole point of this discussion is about finding ways to increase the customer base for Soylent.


#5

Hey, I haven’t anything against superstitious people. If you feel you need to eat food prepared in some special way, more power to you. But the potential market for kosher Soylent has to be miniscule. I suspect most Jewish people of a scientific persuasion, those most likely to be attracted to the Soylent concept, don’t adhere to strict kosher rules. Providing kosher Soylent might “increase the customer base” by a handful of people but I doubt that is worth the effort, time or money for Soylent. I am with GregH. I think Soylent is pretty good value for the money right now but it would dramatically increase its customer base by making Soylent even cheaper.


#6

You’re ignoring the fact that the Muslim population constitutes 5-7 million in the US alone, and around 2 BILLION worldwide (I’ve seen conflicting data on whether it’s just above or below the 2B mark).

And you’re wrong about your assertion about “scientific thinking” and religiosity. Rigorous critical thinking has always been prized within the Jewish community, even and especially among the religious. There’s a reason why they are stereotyped as being doctors, lawyers, and scientists.


#7

Kosher is a preference, much like flavor. Is a chocolate flavor scientifically better? Is Strawberry better? Neither preference is backed by science, but that’s OK. If it makes more consumers happy in a sustainable way, why not?

But we don’t even have to go down that route. Having something Kosher certified doesn’t inherently change the product in any way. It’s literally just relates information about the product in a way that is reliable.

Of course, there is a cost to creating this message. But, let’s leave that up to Soylent makers to figure out if it’s worth the price & hassle or not. They’ll do their math on the expected boost in revenues vs. cost for the cert. The point of this thread is just to encourage Soylent to think about that calculation.

My post aimed to suggest that kosher folks would buy Soylent in disproportionately high numbers. So, even if only 2% of US consumers care about the cert, revenues might be boosted by 4%. That difference between 2% and 4% might be enough to make the switch.


#8

If they can make Soylent kosher without increasing price or adding any real extra problems for them in the production, then sure… whatever. But I would be more interested in them coming to Europe first. (I been waiting around here since it was in beta and still waiting) Thankfully I think the alternative I am using is pretty good, so I am still just waiting patiently.


#9

You are mixing two things that are not the same. Halal and kosher are not
the same. This is from a Google search (you should try that; it’s amazing
what one can find).

“First of all lets see the difference in slaughtering of animals in kosher
and halal. Though the slaughtering is the same, Jews, who follow kosher, do
not pronounce the name of God on each animal they slaughter. They think
that it is wasteful to utter the name of god out of context. They only
perform prayers on the first and last animal that they slaughter. Muslims
who follow halal rituals always pronounce the name of God on each animal
that is slaughtered. According to halal, any adult sane Muslim can perform
the slaughtering of animals. But kosher only allows one kind of Rabbi,
called the Sachet, to slaughter animals. The Sachet is specially trained
for slaughtering and no other Jew can perform this task. Muslims consider
the entire cattle or sheep as Halal if they are duly slaughtered. Jews on
the other hand consider the fore quarter of cattle or sheep as Kosher and
the hindquarter are considered non-Kosher. While Islam law considers meat
of rabbit, wild hens, shellfish, duck and goose as halal, it is not
considered fit to eat according to kosher laws. Muslims look out for source
of enzymes before having them. If it comes from a non-Halal animal, it is
prohibited for a Muslim. But kosher has no difference as per enzymes are
considered. The Jews consider all Enzymes, even from non-Kosher animals, as
Kosher. According to halal law, all intoxicating alcohols, wines, liquors
and drugs are prohibited. Where as kosher law allows all wines. While in
kosher foods, dairy and meat cannot be mixed and it is entirely prohibited,
Halal permits the mixing of the two.”

Me, again. I have the highest respect for the Jewish people and their
traditions. But like any other religious group, they have varying degrees
of adherence to religious dogma. I stand by my statement that those Jewish
people more scientifically inclined are usually more progressive on dietary
issues. The above discussion seems to suggest both halal and kosher
restrictions have more to do with animal slaughter and would be irrelevant
to plant-based food like Soylent. I suspect the real purpose of halal and
kosher restrictions is to guarantee employment for religious officials.
Have a nice day.


#10

I suspect that the (original) real purpose of both Halal and Kosher were early versions of the FDA - many of the rules in both prohibit foods that would be unsafe to eat, and I wouldn’t doubt that it was harder to, for example, sell old/tainted meat when the process was inspected by a religious person.

These days the main purpose is probably tradition. But that’s very important to some people, so I can see why they would want Kosher/Halal Soylent.


#11

Ok, so let’s ignore the fact that Muslims don’t care about kosher, and let’s assume that your maximum guess is correct. That makes Muslims 2.2% of the U.S. population.

Evidently the U.S. Jewish population is close to the same. Muslims don’t care about kosher, so I am not going to worry about them anymore. Less than 3% of the U.S. population is Jews. Now, I have nothing against Jews, but is a maximum 3% increase in sales really worth Kosher certification that would significantly increase the price? And note that I am assuming all U.S. Jews care about kosher. The fact is, they don’t. In fact, the evidence suggests well under half do. So we are talking about a potential of maybe 1% increase in sales, maxiumum. From the sounds of it, the cost of switching to a kosher production line would cost way more than 1%. In other words, the additional sales would not make up for the cost increase, and the price of Soylent would probably have to increase so much that they would lose more business than they gained.

In short, the only way Soylent is ever going to be made kosher is if they can find some way to convert to a kosher production line and hire a rabbi at a cheap enough price that the price of Soylent does not need to change at all. I can only think of one way that can reasonably happen. If demand increases enough that they have to find larger scale production facilities, then if kosher really is a priority for them, they might try to find someone willing to maintain a kosher facility so that they don’t have to pay by the batch.

So if you want kosher Soylent, buy lots and lots of Soylent, and encourage everyone you know to do the same!

And to answer the original question: Why is it so important that Soylent be kosher? If isn’t. Soylent is a business, not a charity. Yes, kosher would be nice, but it is not Soylent’s job to cater to every religion that has dietary restrictions. If the goal of maintaining a low price (which in my opinion, Soylent has failed to do thus far) is important to them, trying to make Soylent kosher would be a bad business move, and since Soylent is a business, that is more important than accommodating every religion.

Kosher is a personal choice. It is a religious sacrifice. It would be cool if Soylent was able to accommodate that, without violating their own goals and principles, but it does not make Soylent bad or wrong not to, and it certainly does not obligate them to. And besides, what kind of sacrifice would kosher be, if everything was kosher?


#12

Those who keep Halal view Kosher certification as an acceptable substitute, while the reverse is not true. We’re not dealing with slaughtering animals, so the majority of the distinctions between the two are irrelevant. Your condescension is frankly insulting to someone who has studied both religions and is religiously observant.

Religion isn’t about sacrifice. You seem very passionate about this and very easily upset at the concept of accomodating the dietary needs of others. I wish you peace.


#13

Thank you, peace be to you too.


#14

Even if Kosher certification would involve an additional fee per production run, making Soylent Kosher is a relatively easy way to make the product accessible to more consumers. Consider all the other requests that Soylent reformulate to account for various dietary restrictions. While the demand for gluten-free/soy-free/sucralose-free Soylent might be greater than the demand for Kosher Soylent, RL must invest substantial R&D dollars into trialing each of these new formulations. If Kosher certification does not require a formulation change and involves only a marginal cost per production run, it may be well worth it for Soylent to go Kosher.

Consider also the benefit of Kosher Soylent for those who do not keep Kosher. Anyone can shop at a Kosher retailer who carries Soylent and take advantage of the additional point of distribution. If a non-Kosher retailer decides to carry Soylent as a Kosher option for meal replacements/protein shakes, Soylent gains a shelf space and a non-Kosher consumer gains a great option. Both of these lead to increased Soylent sales, higher production volume, and lower costs as RL scales to meet demand. Making Soylent better for people who keep Kosher does not mean making it worse for those who do not.

But I digress. Yes, RL is a business and should make smart business decisions, otherwise they will cease to exist and we will all be very hungry and unhappy. But if RL’s mission is to “expand access to quality nutrition through food system innovation” that includes expanding access to those who keep Kosher. While cost is a huge barrier preventing Soylent from being accessible to much larger portions of the world population, that barrier is made of dollars, not cents or fractions thereof per bottle. A few cents increase in price (or more likely decrease in margins given how upset the idea of Kosher Soylent seems to make some people) for Kosher Soylent will not make or break their promise to make Soylent accessible to all. So while RL will have to run the numbers and decide whether Kosher certification is a smart business decision from a cost-per-unit perspective, it is definitely a smart decision from a marketing perspective.


#15

Ultimately we don’t market on certifications. While this may change in the future, we have avoided jumping on the certification marketing train. All our facilities are kosher, we just have opted to not get the certification from a logistics and cost perspective.


#16

Is there anything we Kosher followers of Soylent—who have been watching from afar for years now, enamored, but ultimately unable to partake—can do to hasten this change?


#17

Have you meant “production run”?


#18

Here are some ideas:

We could find someone with experience in Kashrut that would be willing to visit the factory and provide an opinion on whether the product is kosher. For free. We’ll pay for it.

Even without a symbol on the bottle, Soylent can be kosher. Much like Tabasco sauce, wiskey and other products. If the community knows it’s kosher, Soylent doesn’t need to actively market that.

Then, we can just spread the news in the kosher community that soylent is kosher, and a wonderful way to get a nutritious kosher meal.


#19

An upside here is that once soylent scales to the point where they have their own factory, kosher stuff will be much easier and cheaper.


#21

I would appreciate it if you would not be deliberately offensive. Your hostility makes congenial conversation difficult.