Soylent Subterfuge: When a Bad Joke Turns into a Business (Here we go again)


#1

What I’m enjoying most about this fear-mongering, alarmist article is that the author of it is getting blasted to pieces in the comments. Hehehehe.


#2

This article was how I discovered Soylent. I think he’s got a lot of valid points and I agree that this product sets off all my bullshit alarms.

The idea of a nutritionally sound drinkable meal is very attractive. That’s kind of the problem though, the present enthusiasm behind it is based more on people’s desires than on any hard evidence. Much like religion, just because people believe in it and pay for it, doesn’t make it real. But please, develop it, sell it, test it, prove me wrong. I’d love for it to be real. But until you have evidence that this has any advantage over the existing “meal in a milkshake” products, I will maintain my skepticism.


#3

Skepticism is fine, but that goober’s barking loudly up the wrong tree. Once he got into ‘The other carb-based ingredient, oat flour, rates better but suffers from similar issues of malnourishment: it is practically devoid of any nutritional content.’ when every post mentioning it on the site is about how to work around its nutrients and the phymumble acid in it that tends to block them, credibility went ‘poof’. The whole article is based on an outdated and incomplete (as mentioned in the post he took his information from) version.

I’m going to believe the people who have put time and effort into research (Including pretty much everyone on the site here, not just the Soylent people themselves) over someone who read part of the Cliff’s Notes, myself. But do what you like…


#4

That’s fair. I don’t have enough domain knowledge to vet either his claims or the Soylent team’s. However, he has no pretensions about solving world hunger or changing how humanity will eat, so he has a much lower bar to clear for me to take him seriously. The main reason I’m inclined to listen to him is his acknowledgement that neither he nor medical science have a complete picture of how nutrition really works. I saw none of that on the Soylent faux-Kickstarter page and it’s troubling, given the stakes. Perhaps if Soylent were marketed in a more humble, science-rooted fashion, there would be less room for detractors like him. Anyway, the proof is in the pudding. If the product is truly good, it will speak for itself.


#5

@chad: There is some evidence that it is for real, which is that some people have been living on it for months and they have consistently reported either positive changes or no changes. We don’t know what happens on a larger time-scale, and we have no controlled studies, but I don’t think it’s right to say that we have no evidence of its nutritional soundness.

The article raises a lot of good criticisms, and of the good criticisms all of them have been under discussion here except (as far as I know) the worry that not ingesting cholesterol is a bad thing. The bad criticisms largely occurred in the breakdown of the formula, and arose from not understanding how the pieces of the formula work together, which resulted in the author raising objections that were usually not false, but irrelevant.

As far as the other “meal in a milkshake” products go, I don’t think anybody’s saying soylent is more nutritionally sound than they are. However there is one crucial difference, which is that soylent is cheaper. All of the other meal replacement products have their prices jacked up well beyond the cost of the ingredients, and well beyond the cost of eating real food. Soylent is cheaper than real food, except for the diets of the very frugal or the impoverished. This means that it is actually practical to live on soylent, which is something that isn’t true of the other meal replacement products.

This fact is inextricably linked with the “easy, healthy future of nutrition” philosophy of soylent. Soylent is not so much a new product as a new concept. None of the other meal shake producers have thought of this concept and really embraced it, because if they did they wouldn’t have jacked up their prices artificially to the point where nobody could afford to do “the soylent thing” on those shakes. The price tag is the only thing that’s new about soylent the product. Soylent the philosophy is quite novel, and free of charge.


#6

The original blog post on Rob’s personal blog stated at the time that he had no nutrition training, Sadly, either there’s a problem with the site itself or the page has been removed. He said he was approaching it like an engineering problem, ‘you need this, that and the other, what are the most efficient sources for those’. There were a few mistakes at the beginning, such as a lack of sulfur, and an overdose of…manganese? I forget.

The original post wasn’t a ‘let’s feed the world’ thing, it was ‘I spend a lot of time and money gathering food, storing food, cooking or otherwise preparing food and then disposing of the waste, how can I cut down on all of this?’

Here is an archive.org copy of his month three post that talks about the problems. Which also directly addresses the ‘omg you die from maltodextrin’ the panicky post had:

The maltodextrin kicks in quickly, providing energy almost
immediately, and when it runs out the oat powder takes over as an
energy source.

(Remember again, however, that that’s several months old and there have been changes since then) If you hit ‘all posts’ at the top of that you can see the various other ones, which have some more info in them, (along with a few other things).

How I stopped eating food’ is the first one I came across, although I now can’t remember how…

From Wikipedia’s article on cholesterol

“Since cholesterol is essential for all animal life, each cell synthesizes it from simpler molecules, a complex 37-step process that starts with the intracellular protein enzyme HMG-CoA reductase”

and

“Most ingested cholesterol is esterified, and esterified cholesterol is poorly absorbed. The body also compensates for any absorption of additional cholesterol by reducing cholesterol synthesis.[8] For these reasons, cholesterol intake in food has little, if any, effect on total body cholesterol content or concentrations of cholesterol in the blood.”


#7

@nwthomas The plural of anecdote is not data, and as much as I would like to think my own endeavor adds to the generally positive experiences, I haven’t even taken a blood test yet >.>

This said, I think it’s also relevant to note another difference: No other company or ‘meal replacement’ product has facilitated a DIY community in the way Rob & Crew have. Frankly, I don’t think it would have nearly as much clout if this weren’t the case.

Ironically (?), this has also harbored a great deal of skepticism and trepidation within the community on the ‘official’ formula, and the path the original creators are moving with it. Though we have yet to degrade into internal flame wars, I think so far this is a great thing, because it keeps us all in check with a skeptical mind and differing opinions.

Few actually buy wholesale into the product of Soylent, which I find interesting is a common misconception among those with an outside perspective. However, we do think the idea of taking a hard look at available nutrition in the modern world, and seeing what can be improved / changed. The ideas of improving hunger issues the world over seems more like an added perk of this differing perspective on nutrition than an end goal.

TL;DR: Soylent may or may not be a great product, most are still waiting on that. The idea, however, is rather appealing. We’re also tired of cheese burgers being cheaper than salads, and that eating healthy takes more effort and resources than it should (inb4 ‘lrn2cook’).


#8

Uhm, this product is already available in the health field. Its just far more expensive and not as complete.


#9

A form of this product*


#10

I am always amazed at how emotional some people get about Soylent. The only reaction should be to this is “Wow. I’m skeptical for these reasons, but it would be great if this works.” At least in my mind anyway.


#11

People are irrationally threatened by the idea. Maybe they are having nightmares about a future like that in the movie Soylent Green, where humans have to subsist on flavourless gruel.


#12

Not that this is a very serious argument here, but watching my dog eat his food, it looks to me like he’s doing at least as well on that monotonous diet as he would letting him go out and hunt/forage for his own food. For sure, we don’t have anywhere near a complete picture of human nutrition. But surely we know at least as much about human nutrition as dog nutrition, and yet I don’t really see anyone seriously advocating, no matter how much she loves her dog, that dogs ought to only be eating “real” food.


#13

Well, to be honest there are people and companies espousing that very thing. Not that they are being very loud about it. Just saw a commercial about it yesterday.


#14

Interesting article, but I don’t understand how people can be so damn stupid.
It takes less than a second to realize that vast majority of people don’t even come close to eating healthy, “naturally”, regularly or completely.

The moment I watched the Soylent youtube video I realized this would be a far superior alternative for most people.

This stupidity boggles the mind!


#15

There is a well established movement inelegantly styled BARF – “bones and raw food” that advocates just that for dogs, many of whom seem to thrive on it. Most commercial dog foods, particularly the cheaper brands, are compounded for profit, not for canine nutrition. A favourite ingredient, for example, is beet pulp, which is extremely unnatural for dogs, has no nutritional value for them, has significant saponin content that’s definitely bad for them, but is probably used by 90% of kibble formulae because it absorbs up to seven times its weight in water, hence gives volume at minimal cost (it’s dirt cheap, a byproduct of the sugar industry). Dog kibble is, let’s say, typically much worse than Ensure, Boost and similar human for-profit products, because the standards are more lax. Just about all research into canine nutrition is funded by Purina, Iams and other non-objective interests, hence usually heavily biased towards the status quo.

In short, the field of dog nutrition is no better off than human nutrition and probably even worse, if that’s possible.


#16

I get what my vet recommends. Which is pretty much any dog food that the first ingredient is some kind of meat. If its a grain then its probably crap. Its crazy that an expensive brand like Iams gets a 2.5 out of 5 stars from the dog food advisor. I get costco brand food and it gets 4 stars.

And from the dog food advisor. “Some denounce beet pulp as an inexpensive filler while others cite its outstanding intestinal health and blood sugar benefits.”


#17

And I wonder how much saponin is actually in the beet pulp considering the saponin is only found in the roots.


#18

Where then do you think the beet pulp comes from, which part of the plant, jahluv? The part of the beet plant used to make beet sugar IS the root, just expanded into a tuberous structure for energy storage.

When I lived in the Yukon there was a reindeer farm nearby – and they were feeding those hapless creatures a strange feed mix that was VERY heavy on beet pulp. You never saw sicker animals than those reindeer. Massive gastric problems, and they were dropping like flies. (Not surprisingly; their natural foods are lichens and mosses and they are pretty highly adapted and specialised – they are just domesticated caribou, after all.) The beet pulp really messed them up big time.


#19

Fascinating - thanks for the info


#20

I figured the root would be the long stringy part hanging off the bottom. And from a little rooting around I found this little gem. http://www.greatdanelady.com/articles/beet_pulp_myth.htm

And so far I can not find one scientific study that says saponins are harmful to dogs. I have found a few opinion pieces. But no scientific literature stating that saponins are harmful to dogs. And all of the articles I read say it “MAY” do this or it “MAY” do that. The only articles that I have read that say without a doubt saponins are bad are from articles on dog food sites that tout not using beet pulp. Im really interested in this now. I love my pup and want to do whats best for him.