Open Letter to Soylent


#1

Hello Makers of Soylent,

I’ve been following your work since the very beginning. I even emailed right away so I could become a test subject. I love the goals of Soylent and I want Soylent for the very same reasons it was inspired to be created - efficiency.

I care about nutrition. I care about my health. I value my time. I value optimal physical, emotional, and mental performance.

I do not value dining, cooking, or eating other than for recreation. I do not like how much time is consumed buying, prepping, cooking, eating, and cleaning. I do not like how much it costs in time and money to get quality optimal nutrition.

I’ve been anxiously waiting for Soylent to be released along with the thousands of supporters behind Soylent. I’ve been reading all the blog posts and I’m beginning to feel that you’ve lost the plot.

Your original crowd-funding page indicated that you would be releasing a working formula in August. It’s now October and everyone is still waiting.

While, I can appreciate your trying to accommodate the broadest set of customers, it’s not what got me excited about Soylent initially. I am not Vegan. I am not Vegetarian. Most of the people who funded your operation are not as well.

Please produce Soylent that is nutritionally optimal and cost-effective that will work for the majority market. If you want to make a Soylent for vegans some time in the future, that’s awesome. But, that is not what you sold all your backers. You sold us optimal efficient nutrition that would be available in August.

Now, I understand that there will be delays. I’m sure many of us expected that. But to delay your primary customer base so you can modify the formula (and potentially compromise the nutritional and cost efficiency) to accommodate a micro-minority of the population is being completely irresponsible to the people who originally backed the project based on the original stated goals.

Please, if you’re going to read the forums, do so with respect to the promises made in your initial crowd-funding campaign. It’s unproductive to change course based on a minority who speak loudly about what they want, while you neglect the huge and patient majority that made everything you’re working on possible.

Now I realize that it’s probably too late to change the formula again because that would probably cause further delays, but I do hope you get back to your original mission and aspirations - feeding the world optimal nutrition that’s cost-efficient.

After you’re done with this vegan formula, I hope you still continue research and create a Soylent formula that contains the most optimal cost-efficient nutritional profile that will work great for the majority of the population.

Thanks for reading,
Jeremy

P.S. I have nothing against vegans and vegetarians, so please save your flames. I just want what was originally promised.


#2

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe making it suitable for any diet was always the goal (But I only started following in the last month or two). Also, I don’t think they’ve been delaying anything for their vegan customers. They’ve actually already said that they will only supply fish oil for the omega 3s, and vegans have to supplement separately until further notice.

I think perhaps the main culprit for the delay was that they received more pre-orders than they expected, pushing them directly into large scale production - which takes longer to set up.


#3

Soylent hasn’t been delayed by vegan or vegetarian interests and the Soylent that is being released in December will still not be strictly vegan because it will come with a supply of fish oil that a few people (mainly vegans) have found issue with. The Soylent team have expressed a desire to supply an entirely vegan formula down the line but it’s certainly not the case for the upcoming release.

Soylent was delayed because the number of backers and Soylent orders far exceeded the estimated demand. Rather than release an early and inferior version of Soylent to some backers by shipping in August, the whole launch was delayed to improve the taste and nutritional value of a more complete version of Soylent. This way is fairer to the customers who all get the best product available, better for the Soylent team because they don’t have to organise successive releases of a product still in development and better for Soylent the company because its growth won’t be plagued by poor reviews of an unfinished problem.

I’m sorry if you feel the wait has been longer than you planned for, I hope its a consolation that at least you won’t be waiting much longer and you’ll get a much better product than you would have in August.


#4

According to the most recent blog update, the only thing remaining that is holding up the formula finalization is finding a vegan vitamin blend. While high demand and inexperience are to blame for most of the delay, the fact is that we would have the finalized formula right now were it not for the attempt to make it vegan.

@Sintax: Soylent can be made suitable for anyone with any kind of allergies, which has been part of the goal all along. But making it suitable for different diets that people choose for non-allergy reasons is a different step entirely. There’s been no effort from the company, at least not publicly, to release ketogenic Soylent, for example, or low-fat Soylent, or other diets. Veganism is the sole exception, and now it’s holding up the release for everyone else.


#5

I find it disappointing, but not unexpected, that a vocal (and what I believe is a) minority is causing shifts that are delaying this project further.


#6

I don’t think it’s actually holding things back. It’s not like they could start mailing off shipments tomorrow.
After realising their delays were building up they set a hard date for December where they knew that they could be finished by. Even if they could ship in November I think they’d wait until December so they could keep lining up their ducks for the future.

The update says they need a quote on a vegan vitamin blend but since the fish oil is the only non-vegan ingredient in Soylent I’d say this vitamin blend is just a standard ingredient they’ve always needed and they’re just sorting out the final costs for the quantities they need.
The update also says that the copacker can send out shipments with no fish oil at all to satisfy the vegans/vegetarians but since it can’t take 2 months to sort shipments into oil/no oil lots I doubt this is a delay either.


#7

I don’t know. They’ve had a December shipping date fixed for a while now, haven’t they?

From the blog post:

Overall we were very pleased with how far we’ve come — taste, texture, and smell were improved greatly since we visited their applications lab in New York last month. We’re getting so close to a final formula! All that’s left is getting a quote for a vegan vitamin blend (the previous blend included vitamin D3 derived from lanolin), and some additional flavor work.

It really seems like the vegan thing is more of an afterthought than you’re saying. They’ve spent a lot of time, apparently, on flavor, smell and texture - the vegan micro-blend they left till the last minute (It’s just a D3 source… isn’t it?). They even explicitly say “All that’s left” so as to imply the finalization is imminent.

If they said they had to change the shipping date in order to accommodate the vegan blend, that would be one thing - but this sounds like a misinterpretation of a fraction of a sentence.

Deep breaths, guys :slight_smile:

Those examples would require dramatic restructuring of the content of the recipe. Veganizing the ingredients is just a matter of changing the source - something that can be done rather simply and cheaply without making changes to the content. In the one place they are not able to do so (fish oil), they aren’t bothering.


#8

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t plant based protein significantly cheaper than animal based protein? I’d prefer a cheaper soylent that’s just as nutritionally complete but way cheaper to one that comes out a little bit faster. Let them perfect the recipe FFS.


#9

Yeah. That’s primarily why Soylent will never be people.


#10

Yeah, that’s why.
Plus people taste like chicken anyway, what’s the point?


#11

Actually, they’re already using plant bases for protein (pea and rice, I believe). The only animal-based ingredient currently under consideration is the fish oil providing some fatty acids. As far as I understand from some of the discussions going on, it is possible to derive this from non-animal sources, but scale of supply may be an obstacle, and it’s currently being investigated further.


#12

This is incorrect, if you read the newest blog post they are currently waiting on a new quote for a new vitamin blend as the old one was not vegan.


#13

Ah, you are correct. I missed that when I first read it.
Direct quote for those interested:

All that’s left is getting a quote for a vegan vitamin blend (the previous blend included vitamin D3 derived from lanolin), and some additional flavor work.


#14

What are vegans beef with lanolin? Collecting it does not harm the animal in any way shape form or fashion.


#15

I do believe the vegan “beef” (LOLPUN) with it would be the fact that animals still need to be in captivity for it to be collected in large enough quantities to provide for Soylent.


#16

I still don’t understand the “beef” with them choosing a different D3 source in the first place. It’s not like they’re sitting on their thumbs staring at walls drooling on themselves while they “wait”.


#17

Availability in the quantities required.


#18

Vegetrian is fine with using products of animals, but vegans do not.

So using lanolin is not proper for vegan food.


#19

Woohboy, there’s a lot of misleading going on in this thread. I’ll give one unofficial vegan response and perspective.[quote=“uberjer, post:1, topic:6243”]
I’m sure many of us expected that. But to delay your primary customer base so you can modify the formula (and potentially compromise the nutritional and cost efficiency) to accommodate a micro-minority of the population is being completely irresponsible to the people who originally backed the project based on the original stated goals.
[/quote]

After the long intro, this is the heart of the anti vegan-Soylent message. Does this seem like a reasonable response to “find another vitamin blend with one different ingredient and other option for oil” that is all that’s happening right now? No, because it’s not.

I do like the use of the word “compromise”. Like making Soylent vegan is going to break it. While I’m picking this apart, what’s the difference between a minority and a micro-minority?

The “reason” for a diet doesn’t matter at all, whether it’s for allergens, weight loss or ethics. All that matters is what’s in it. And guess what? When you remove as many common allergens as possible from something that doesn’t have meat in it, it’s going to be very close to vegan. This is why the possibility of vegan Soylent is taken seriously, while low fat and ketogenic Soylent are not.

Do you actually want to know, or just don’t agree with veganism? Most lanolin consumed by humans comes from domestic sheep wool. The modern American wool industry involves doing horrible things to sheep. It’s not letting them live on a farm, and giving them a haircut every once in a while. Vegans want to not support this industry, and certainly don’t want to eat anything that was created that way.

And I’ll just say this in general: this is all just about using vegans as the whipping boy for the delays. I really, truly believe that the current efforts to make Soylent vegan will not raise the price by a cent, or make it take a day longer. Any costs will be more than covered in the additional business. The extra work happening right now is most likely not on the project critical path.

You were never promised August, you were told to expect it. People were never promised vegan Soylent, but they were told to expect it. They have just as much right to ask for what they paid for as everyone else.


#20

Woah, guys! Let’s give Soylent some time! They have been working really hard to build this awesome formula! The Soylent formula has been in the works for over a year now, and they are constantly improving the formula. Although it really sounds like they are merely waiting on getting a source of D3 vitamins that would be Vegan satisfactory, that hardly seems to be something they would allow to hold up production.

They have been working on the texture, flavor, smell, and various other things. Also, it seems that they are still working on securing sufficient quantities of some of the ingredients, and likely waiting on shipping and various other things. I do wish they would give us more information, but I also understand that this process is quite a bit of work.

These guys are not a multimillion dollar company that does this all the time. It is always hard to break into such a large industry, and frankly I think they are doing great! Another issue is that a whole lot of us pre-ordered Soylent, and it was a lot more than what is normally ordered for a new product. This is putting some strain on finding sources of ingredients to fulfill the insane amount of demand, which was mentioned in previous blogs.

If they have time and can find a source of Vegan-safe D3 to make the formula more compatible with many more people, then I am all about it! It won’t hurt us, and will likely be healthier in the end. I don’t feel that they are delaying everything because of it, I feel they are working on that in addition to everything else, and if they can find a working answer in time, it will only benefit more people. It already sounds like they have a contingency plan of not sending the vials of oil with the shipments for the vegan crowd, but it would be even better if they could fill in the hole and ship out a complete product to vegans too.

In short: Be patient, these guys rock, and it takes time to do it right! For Rob & the Soylent team: Keep up the awesome work!