Regarding the plausibility of a "one meal for life" diet


Some people have said that the idea of producing a recipe which could be eaten exclusively - with no additions and while maintaining perfect health - is fundamentally flawed. I’d like to point out a realisation I had that millions of beings live perfectly healthy lives on such diets already: pets.

Pet food is a time-tested and cheap to produce complete one-meal diet (for a specific species). Most pet foods still state that the pet’s diet should be supplemented e.g. leafy greens regularly, or fresh meat, and maybe many pets do get those things. But I know that many pet owners, maybe even a majority, just feed their animal whatever comes out of the pack from the supermarket. Again, the vast majority of these animals live long healthy lives.

Clearly pet food is nowhere near the lucrative potential market that people food is, yet they have stil managed to find the cash to produce a cheap and healthy complete diet, and done it many times over (for each species’ particular requirements and for each individual manufacturer’s products), and all this without the vast body of research that exists into optimal human nutrition. This gives me great hope that the same will soon be achieved for us.


Excellent point, and some other random words so I can actually reply.

Can we remove the 20 character minimum from posts?

I’m sorry, but the OP is pretty much riddled with unsubstantiated lay person’s assumptions about the present-day life of dogs, canine nutrition, commercial dogfood and a few other things. Drawing conclusions in this way from facile assumptions and superficial analogies is always risky business!

Try to make it real, compared to what? “The vast majority of these animals live long healthy lives” – compared to what? Can you back up that sweeping generalisation with some facts? I’ve been in the dog game for most of my life and a lot of evidence indicates that the vast majority of dogs are living shorter lives than they did 50 or 60 years ago, and that serious diseases of all sorts are proliferating in the canine population. Some of this is being blamed on questionable breeding practices, and rightly so, but it seems likely that diet (as in the case of humans in North America) must bear its share of the blame too.

Commercial dogfood is a more lucrative proposition than one might think – if not, why would manufacturers spent so much money on high-priced national advertising? You don’t mount multimillion-dollar ad campaigns without the virtual certainty that the investment will be repaid by sales in many multiples. Commercial dogfood is concocted from extremely cheap ingredients, many of them waste byproducts of human food processing industries – beet pulp, for example – of little to no nutritional value, possibly harmful through its saponin content, it’s a valued ingredient for most dogfood manufacturers because it keeps stools formed when they might otherwise be diarrhoea, and it gives a false bulking effect through its ability to absorb up to seven times its weight in water. Similarly, soya-based rations are a feature of cheaper brands, despite evidence that soya protein is of dubious value to carnivores – and the dog IS a carnivore.

“Without the vast body of research that exists into optimal human nutrition” – well, there is some research, unfortunately nearly all of it is funded if not actually carried out by major stakeholder corporations like Purina. Actually it’s a bit difficult to determine what the nutritional requirements of the domestic dog might be, although it’s quite obvious what Purina thinks about the subject! In short, a lot of well-funded research has a predetermined outcome, i.e., the justification of soya protein, beet pulp and similar issues.

I don’t think we should take the OP’s analogy seriously. Several of the stated major premises are open to question, so subsequent reasoning from them is void.

FWIW, though, I know one guy on the CRON (Calorie Restriction with Optimum Nutrition) lists who subsists on Purina Lab Chow for Primates, plus chopped raw cabbage. Speaking of “one meal for life.” In fact, the “one meal for life” approach has its advocates among CRONies, because it’s possible to construct such a meal from the ground up for “optimum nutrition” – to whatever degree the current state of nutritional science permits us to comprehend the full meaning of that little phrase.

Personally, I think “one meal for life” is something of a quixotic enterprise. It’s a grand, idealistic goal but I would question whether we are anything like close enough to knowing the full meaning of “optimum nutrition” as yet, to the degree that would make such a goal attainable. I’d call it “The Impossible Dream


I wonder if that’s what they were singing about…


No one ever said to eat Soylent exclusively. You can eat other foods, purely for the taste, but you are not required to.


Exactly so! It no harm – does in fact a lot of good – to shoot for perfect balanced nutrition. The danger lies in getting so involved with that idealistic concept that we start to believe our own hype. I think Soylent corp and soylenters in general would do well to eschew claiming such completeness and perfection. Keep the emphasis on how much better a rationally balanced formula is than the SAD usual fast-food default setting into which so many people fall.

Personally, having arrived at a soylent formulation that works for me, I’m now in process of creating a set of soylent-compatible alternative blenderised frozen meals – breakfasts and dinners – that can be slotted into my basic soylent nutrition-scape for variety and diversity (even, sometimes, for comic relief!). Nobody in his rational senses is going to stick to a single “meal for life” in actual practice, not unless he/she has some kind of serious hangup (eating disorder, mindfuck, whatever) about food. Therefore, a good soylent programme needs to recognise the value of diversity by making it part of the programme.


kthprog - the “programme” spelling is still used in much of the English speaking world. One particular local rendering of English is not privileged over the others. You understood the meaning of the word perfectly well, thus its purpose was served.

Thanks for bringing up so many issues I hadn’t considered Jeffrey. I must confess you’re correct that I know next to nothing about canine nutrition and the industry, I just wanted to share my observation that many animals do live well (for some definitions of well) on a very invaried diet. I should clarify that indeed I don’t expect anyone should eat Soylent exclusively, but nonetheless a Soylent formulation must be capable of performing excellently in such a role.


(For whatever it’s worth, Canadian spelling conventions waffle uncertainly between American and British spellings, depending on the word and the region and the individual. Some of us just follow British spelling, since the English language did, after all, originate in the British Isles. Personally I spent many years in British Crown colonies and Brit spelling conventions became habitual for me. And @kthprog it’s easy to say “wanker” but it takes one to know one; actually I’ve been learning to like you, enjoying some of your posts, so back off the hammer – you seem to be a bloke with a rather short fuse.)

Back on topic – I think many dogs are just doing what dogs have always done, getting a free lunch off the people and making do with what they get. Evidence indicates that scavenging behaviour and the food motive probably initiated domestication of the wolf (with which the dog, once styled Canis familiaris, is now thought to be conspecific, i.e. C. lupus familiaris). I have met dogs that don’t know what to do with a chunk of raw meat. Their dentition, though, marks them as indisputably carnivorous, with the big carnassial teeth for bone-breaking and the “fang” canines for grabbing and holding. The canine race is rather mixed-up consequent to its domestication and coevolution with humanity.

We insist on feeding dogs cereals – I do it too – for economic reasons; but in fact the dog’s energy metabolism is fat-based and dogs do quite well on diets of, say, fifty percent fat content. They have much less need of carbohydrates than humans do, or so some research done back in the 1980s indicated.

The question of an invariant diet is an interesting one. I marvel at the guy who eats Purina Lab Chow for Primates. Would you trust Purina that far? I don’t think I would. But then I don’t trust Abbot or Nestlé that much, either – I would hate to be condemned to a lifetime of Boost, Jevity, Ensure or similar. I am too suspicious that, like the dogfood manufacturers, they are making a killing selling high-priced stuff compounded from floor-sweepings. (Like the cinnamon thing: apparently some tests were run recently that demonstrated that nearly all the “ground cinnamon” on supermarket shelves contains no cassia/cinnamon bark whatsoever, just sawdust – flavoured and perfumed with cinnamon oil! Can you trust manufacturers of edibles in a free market? NOT!)

Richard, you put your finger right on the paradox of soylent – even if we don’t recommend consuming Soylent exclusively, “nonetheless a Soylent formulation must be capable of performing excellently in such a role.” I think most of us are still struggling to realise all the implications of that.


You’re over arguing. This means you’re trying too hard to be convincing and not posting your points.

In my opinion.

tl;dr version: tl;dr