Random thoughts


Kind of a rant of thoughts. I don’t even know what I want to explain or what my point is yet… Hopefully I find one.

So we often look at soylent and try to make it as complete and as perfect as possible and always compare it to eating regular food. We try to standardize a formula to be used by everyone. Why? When I think about it, throughout hundreds, if not thousands of years of human history and across dozens of cultures, climates, and demographic regions, humans constantly eat different crap. Eskimos adapted to eat nothing but animals, certain races have a higher chance to be lactose intolerant, some races can breakdown alcohol where others can’t as well, some cultures survive on massive amounts of veggies compared. However, in the end, humans survive and thrive, and adapt.

I"m not talking about blood type diet, or anything crazy, but the human body is an amazing thing. If science claims that “insert diet” is the optimal way to eat for everyone, and we try to make a soylent formula based on that and compare it TO that, I often wonder, has anyone compared it to actual varied diets around the world? I see so many discussions on things like, ratio of omega 3/6, and how Chia/flax is HORRIBLE for you, so eat fish or take fish oil, but what about people who are allergic to fish? Even if they ate regular food, they would never be able to get their omegas balanced, so why should they worry about balancing their omegas if they choose soylent?

Things like calcium; dairy, green leafy foods, but what about cultures that don’t historically eat that? How did they survive in winter? We didn’t always have domesticated cows everywhere, and some regions do not support the growth of said leafy veggies.

We as humans adapted, we as humans have a wide variety of needs… I don’t expect anyone to answer these questions, but I just wanted to articulate my thoughts. I don’t see many discussions about this.

Before I started soylent, I never really thought, "O, I better make sure to eat x and y today to get my vitamin q, since i ate a b this morning. Until recently, and the availability of supermarkets, foods were less varied… We ate the same crap. Its not like if you lived in Europe somewhere 200 years ago, and started to catch a cold, you could just go drink a gallon of orange juice. Even mainstream, healthy diets don’t say exactly which foods and what quantity to consume them. Its just, “eat lots of fruits and veggies!!!”, not, "Don’t eat too many carrots, cause you could get vitamin x poisoning!

I guess, in the end, the conclusion I was able to come to, is that I think we over think this too much.


These are certainly interesting things to ponder, but I personally would be very careful about comparing the food of today to the food of our ancestors. They lived in different conditions and it’s really easy to fall prey to Appeal to tradition fallacy.

While it’s certainly true that various civilizations lived in various conditions and often had completely different diets, and have survived on these diets for centuries, it still doesn’t mean that the diets they ate were optimal or even good for them. Most of the time people ate whatever was available to them given the time and place, or the more lucky ones ate whatever they thought was best for them given their contemporary knowledge of diets.

Moreover, they had a different set of diseases to deal with - maybe even the kinds we don’t have to worry about today because we have a better diet (or vice versa - I’m no expert) and certainly had a different lifespan and lifestyle too.

You might compare this to the development of medicine - people survived thousands of years without proper treatment for most of the common diseases, and yet with the advances in this field the quality of life increased and the death rate lowered.

To be fair, we should also take care not to fall into Appeal to novelty fallacy, as not every thing that is new is automatically better.

As for the regional differences - it’s probably true that “one Soylent to rule them all” is not a solution for everyone on the planet (if not for anything else, then at least because it’s built upon US DRIs, and DRIs of countries vary). But maybe variants and alternative distros are, and we already see many regional distros popping up, filling up the gaps.

Also it’s not unlikely that specialized, individual distros will appear, gathering data from apps on your phone (tracking your caloric intake and expenditure, your specific requirements, goals, conditions etc) and offering diet that’s optimal for you. In fact, you can already ask Custom Body Fuel, Powder Chow or 100%Food for a specialized custom order.

While it might as well be true that we still don’t know a lot about nutritional science and thus can be mistaken in the values of various micronutrients people should or should not eat, it’s still the best scientific knowledge in this area we currently have.

That being said, it’s also true that trying to mix the various micronutrient ratios exactly or weighing the ingredients down to three decimal places is probably superfluous.


For me, I’m fully aware that I’m going way overboard with my research insofar as is necessary to have a reasonably effective DIY recipe. I know, but I don’t care. DIY has been extremely eye opening for me. I’ve learned more about nutrition in the past month than I’ve learned in my entire life. These are things that will be good to know forever, so I don’t mind taking the time to “perfect” my individual recipe. The benefit is twofold: a super healthy, cheap food source, and the knowledge I have gained going forward.

I at least am not trying to perfect a recipe for everyone - Soylent ™ might be, but I’m only really concerned with myself for now. Really think about it: What is possibly more important than your own personal nutrition? What, in the entire scale of your life, is more important to your very existence? I’d say it’s right near the top of the list, and I’d been woefully undervaluing it. With soylent I am able to push the limits to near perfection (using known, current science) for my individual needs. I find that quite cool.

I take part or lurk on the various debates over this or that to hopefully glean some insight that could be relevant to me. I think it’s interesting that so much is still debated; I honestly had no idea nutritional science was still so incomplete. I think it’s fascinating.

Am I over thinking it? Yeah, no doubt. But I also think it will be worth it (more accurately: what else would I be doing with my free time, browsing reddit?). The more work we put in now the easier it will be in the future. You’re correct regarding history and other cultures, but I look at it as playing the percentages and valuing science: if research indicates [x] is better than [y] for me, I’m going to try to go for it. It’s challenging figuring all of that out. It’s like a puzzle.

That’s my take at least.


Anyone can eat nothing but animals :slight_smile:

Even though they only eat meat, they still get most of these vitamins/minerals that are needed, from the liver of some animals for an example.


Interesting and accurate, but people lived short, miserable lives for most of human history. Those Europeans who didn’t drink orange juice when they needed a shot of Vitamin C would die of simple things more readily than we would find tolerable today. I’m very fond of modernity and its myriad conveniences for that reason.


I can’t appeal to tradition or novelty? What’s left for me to appeal to?!


I agree with this bit. But for pretty much everything Internet related. It’s total information overload. Every minute detail gets expanded on so darned much that every grain of sand starts to look like a mountain. From arsenic in rice to water fluoride to Peruvian flute band spittle evaporation/condensation cycles affecting Arctic ice melt, so much discourse keeps getting bogged down in minutia, over and over.

We live in an era with an almost endless supply of readily available information, meanwhile, our cognitive processing capacity hasn’t changed much, if at all. It’s not that we’re trying to put square pegs into round holes; many of the pegs do match up, indeed. It’s more like we’re trying to fit one million pegs into one hundred holes.


Here we go again, whats with your obsession with my raising the issue of arsenic?. Its not a bl**dy minute thing. This is a health blog. Go visit a tech blog and see people argue about android and iphones. Those are minute things.

Its comments like yours that encourage people like spaceman to take the issue more lightly. If people keep on shooting down any concerns anybody raises about a product, the product makers will take the issue lightly too.


People said the same thing about cigarettes too in the 50’s. Its all minute minute. Then came junk food and its cholesterol, people initially said its all minute nothing to worry about.


Heh, the latest scientific research and evidence of course!