My order for Soylent is still processing, as I only ordered a week’s worth to start, and I grew impatient, so I decided to try some of the alternatives in the mean time to get a vague idea of what to expect when my Soylent arrives.
@Spaceman’s “100% Food” has been on the market for a few weeks, and he’s been an active member of this forum, so I thought I’d give it a try and share my experience here for anyone else who was curious. This review is in no way endorsed by Spaceman or his company - this is completely independent.
I ordered the 3 meal “sample” pack, which consisted of 100% Food, 100% Food Organic, and 100% Food Chocolate. I think he’s since begun offering new flavors, however this review is based on those 3, as they exist at the time of this writing (06/24/2014)
So let’s start with the (forgive the pun) nitty gritty: how does it taste? In short: not bad. Not amazing either, to be honest, but it was palatable. For breakfast this morning I had 100% Food and for lunch right now I’m halfway through a bottle of Organic.
100% Food (non-organic): oatey, meal-y, liquid-y, with just a touch of sweetness, but not at all what I would call “sweet” - it compares similarly to the sweetness level of things like soy milk and (from what I hear) Soylent 1.0. The drinking experience was not the best though, for one major reason - there is a lot of sediment in this product. While it’s certainly not undrinkable, even looking at the powder it is clear that the heavy amount of seed-based ingredients in this has created a product that is not even remotely close to “fully powdered”. As a result, you will get seeds both in your mouthfeel, and in your throatfeel (is that a word?). As others have stated elsewhere in the reviews I’ve read of this product, it can go down a bit “roughly”. It’s not painful, but after consuming my breakfast bottle (in the car on the way to work) I was left strongly wishing I’d had a bottle of water to wash any leftover sediment out of my throat. It did leave me feeling a bit scratchy, and there were a few bits of seed stuck in my teeth from having done some “chewing” while I “ate”. Overall it was tolerable, but I think there is definitely room for improvement - if Spaceman can get his ingredients in a more powdery form I think it would really help this out overall.
One thing I feel is very important to mention regarding this also is that I mixed and consumed this bottle immediately. I did not let it “sit” or “soak” as people have suggested be done with Soylent, so some time after mixing may have improved some aspects of the overall product here - YMMV. For my “lunch” bottle that I’m eating now I ate about 1/3 immediately after mixing, and I am now giving it about 30 minutes to soak to see how that affects the product. Speaking of lunch, let’s talk about 100% Food (Organic)
100% Food (Organic): fairly similar to the non-organic variety, but with some subtle differences. The sesame seeds do give it a more “seed-y” feel overall, but I don’t feel so far that it’s any more difficult to drink or going down, it’s about at the same level of throat-scratch that the 100% Food (non-organic) variety was. Leaving it to soak in a bit so far has improved the separation - I put in water and shook, drank some, then let it sit and it very quickly separated, however upon giving it a re-shake just a minute ago it seems to be holding together much better and not separating as much, so I definitely think that with this product it would be a good idea to mix up the night before and let soak, then give a quick shake before consuming. The organic version’s taste is just a hint less sweet than the non-organic, as the lack of banana flakes as an ingredient I think takes out a bit of the sweetness. It tastes very heavily of oatmeal and feels similar in the mouth. Yep, just took another drink to confirm. Oatmeal central, right here. Not unpleasant, pretty mild, not sure if I’d get tired of it quickly or not, but definitely fits the “neutral” description that official Soylent feels is very key to winning that battle… Overall both this and the non-organic were neutrally flavored enough to allow for additions such as fruits, veggies, or whatever else you wanted to add - so there is definitely flexibility here for people to customize as desired.
I haven’t yet drank my Chocolate yet (that’s tomorrow’s breakfast) so I can report back on that tomorrow after consumption. The rest of this review will apply to the entire 100% food product line as a whole, since it comprises factors not specific to the individual drinks (except as noted).
Packaging: I love/hate that these come in individual bottles. On the one hand - individual bottles means SUPER EASY prep. Pour in water, shake, eat. No measuring anything, just pour and go. Definitely beats Soylent in that regard. I personally chose to add water until about 2/3 bottle was full, shake to get initial powder/mix wet, then add the rest of the water to fill the bottle, so that shaking wasn’t fighting for empty space in the bottle - so YMMV depending on how you mix it up. Soylent would do well to take a cue from Spaceman here (and I don’t doubt that will likely happen eventually) - prepackaged “just add water to fill line and shake” is the ULTIMATE in meal convenience, if Soylent doesn’t very quickly go down this road they are missing out on a huge selling point to open up their product to new markets - the instant “just add water” meal. Yes Soylent 1.0 is quite convenient, but pre-bottled? 100% Food wins there. It might be a small victory (depending on your POV) but there is no doubt in my mind that 100% is the easiest “complete meal” I’ve ever consumed, bar none.
The hate part comes in with the existence of the packaging itself. Bottles means extra waste, so this is a more environmentally impactful product since each meal means you have a bottle to either recycle or dispose of. I personally am somewhat of an enviro-conscious guy, so the knowledge that every meal came with a waste plastic bottle was not thrilling. Not a dealbreaker either, since they are recyclable, but I’d love to see an option to just order bags of the mix instead of individually bottled meals, so that I could reuse bottles or do like Soylent and mix up a full day in a reuable pitcher and pour into glasses.
Also, the bottles are plastic - and some plastics are ok, some not so ok. Given that this is a food product, I’m not sure what’s in these bottles. Is the plastic BPA free (doubtful, but I’m unsure, Spaceman might know). What about long term storage? The bottles were not hermetically sealed, the caps did have that ring that breaks away on opening to let you know it hasn’t been opened yet, but the existing seal didn’t feel amazingly tight, leading me to think that the shelf life of this product is probably slightly lower than something in a vacuum-sealed package. Whether or not that difference means days, months, or years I can’t say - but just be aware that if you did intend for long term storage of this product you might want to consider your own method of more robust storage to prevent spoilage. Given that the product is a powder though I’m sure that even in the bottle this will last months if not years, assuming none of the individual ingredients is prone to spoilage.
Nutrition: This is a confusing subject for me, so I’ll break it down as best as I can.
650 calories per bottle: good - low for my profile (32, sedentary male) - 3 meals will equal 1950 calories, which is probably a good thing for me since I want to shed a few pounds, but I’m supposed to consume between 2200 and 2600 calories per day according to my nutrition profile, so if I stuck with this product long term I would potentially need to supplement the calorie level (which isn’t hard, granted) - so I’m not really going to consider that a strike against the product, especially as that’s similar to Soylent, I just feel it bears mentioning.
Sodium: none of the bottles I ordered contains much sodium. That I found VERY concerning. While it’s easy enough to add sodium to it (I have not done so yet), it’s definitely a point to watch out for if you wanted to use this product as your only source of nutrition. See the product website for complete nutrition and make sure you do a lot of research on this and any other powdered food before you make it your primary source of nutrition. I can’t find detailed nutrition information for each bottle on their website, just a single nutrition label that doesn’t completely match all of my bottles. For instance my non-organic meal this morning said it had almost no sodium in it. Either that was a misprint, or it had none. I threw the bottle out already so I can’t check the label, but my Organic lunch here has 8.5mg of Sodium according to the label. I’m having tacos for dinner tonight so I should be fine, but again, read the labels and plan accordingly. In Spaceman’s defense, the Chocolate bottle I have does have 270mg of Sodium, so it’s the best of the three, but anyone living on this stuff may need to add salt if they don’t want to risk serious nutrition deficits.
That said, the rest of the nutrition profile is excellent - most of the vitamin counts meet or exceed RDA levels in the right quantities, though there are quirks between the different flavors. The non-organic version probably had more Vitamin K because it contained banana chips, whereas the organic version in front of me only has 10% RDA of it. 15% Phosphorus vs the Chocolate which has 45%. So again - plan ahead, but you should be doing that with ANY powdered food, including Soylent. Know what your body needs and make sure you’re getting it! Overall I’d say this stuff is still a lot healthier than what I WAS eating for breakfast and lunch, which was often donuts and fast food.
Other Stuff: After “breakfast” this morning I was actually still a little hungry and felt a pang or two of hunger between breakfast and lunch, so I can’t say that I personally found a bottle of this to be completely satiating in terms of hunger, however I am 6’1" and about 190lbs, so it’s not too surprising that a single bottle like this wasn’t making me feel completely full right away. I think also that the lack of “soak” time contributed to this as well, as my hunger did eventually subside, and I feel that letting the mixture thicken would have helped greatly in this regard. My lunch having soaked for 45 minutes at this point has now taken on a much thicker consistency and is now around the same level as oatmeal (in fact it’s harder to drink now that it’s so thick and not quite pouring out of the bottle as easily, but it’s still doable) so I’m willing to say that some pre-prep time before chugging will really help this. Having the “meal” hit your stomach in a more soaked form will give it more volume, and take longer to digest and probably help you feel more full, so I’ll make sure to remember that when eating this in the future.
The price for the sample set was a bit much, IMO - $20 for 3 bottles where I could have gotten a week’s worth for $75. I’m not saying he doesn’t have a right to charge what he wants, just that there seems to be a bit of a premium on buying the sample set, which doesn’t make sense - I’d think the sample set should be discounted to entice people to try and “get them hooked”, but it’s his business why he prices the way he does. As for the other prices, they’re reasonable but comparable to Soylent’s, really. Overall this stuff is still a lot cheaper than most meals of just about anything else, so it’s not a bad deal, but don’t expect to save a bunch of money compared to Soylent. You do get bottles with your order though, so there is that angle to the cost - you’re getting potentially more convenience than you get with Soylent, but that might be splitting hairs since it’s not like Soylent is inconvenient.
Packaging: outside of the bottle stuff that I discussed earlier my shipment’s packaging was a bit on the underwhelming side. My 3-bottle trial arrived ingloriously stuffed in a USPS priority-mail cardboard envelope meant for mostly flat objects like papers and documents, so the packaging was quite beat up due to the strain of having 3 bottles stuffed in a mailer meant for paper. I assume that larger orders are boxed and therefore more robust in shipping, but in that packaging one of the bottles could have easily come open during shipping, spilling its contents everywhere. The lids were on tight enough I suppose, but overall I’d say he should look into better packaging for the sample kits.
Shipment: given Spaceman’s small operations there was little information about shipment as it was occurring - no tracking number or even email confirmation aside from the Paypal email confirmation when I made my purchase, however to his credit the shipment was VERY FAST. I ordered on Friday and got my stuff on Monday. Spaceman uses USPS Priority Mail for all shipments and it shows - I was pleased that he obviously dropped my order in the mail the same day I placed it, so you can likely count on quick arrival if you decide to order from him, and that was definitely in his favor, especially for someone like me who’s probably still 2-4 weeks away from getting his Soylent (and who knows how long a reup will take since I’m only due for a 1-week supply…)
Conclusion: Overall I’m pleased with 100% Food, but I think there is room for growth and improvement here. The formula could potentially do with some tweaking to make it more pleasing, and I don’t think I’d be thrilled drinking this every day for breakfast and lunch (my planned Soylent routine) for weeks or months on end, but the flavor variety (as much as there is a “flavor” to powdered foods like this) does give you some choice in the matter and may stave of repetition if you find yourself getting tired of Soylent or other powdered food varieties.
I haven’t decided if I’m going to order more of this yet, my current feeling is a strong maybe - I liked it enough to keep at it, but I might also try some of the other DIY-For-Sale recipies such as @axcho 's for-sale People Chow. A better way to put it is that if there were no DIYs for sale, I would order more of this, but I don’t know if I would continue to order it vs official Soylent - that’s a decision I’ll have to make after I go “stomach-on” with official Soylent.
I’d say my experience with 100% Food has so far been reasonably positive, but again, there is room for improvement and I hope that @Spaceman continues working on improving this to make it truly shine and be a strong competitor against Soylent. It’s not there yet, but it’s got a lot of potential, and Spaceman is clearly working hard on this product and getting money together though his early sales to build his growing business. I look forward to seeing where he takes his own spin on powdered food living, and I think 100% Food is worth considering, but you’ll want to have a sense of adventure before you order - this is not as finely honed and tested a product as Soylent appears to be - but Spaceman does deserve credit all the same. Soylent has a team of people, months of beta testing with tons of volunteers, and about 4 million dollars in investments and pre-orders, so they can quite literally afford to be a more polished product. For something that was DIY’d by a dude from Belarus (not Russia - thanks for clearing that up for me, @Spaceman with no pre-orders and no budget, 100% Food is definitely a solid beginning to what may one day be a real competitor in this segment of the food industry.
Thanks for reading this far - and again: this was an independent review, I have not spoken to Spaceman about this, and I am no way affiliated with him or his company. As such I have not posted direct links to any of his products or his website, but if you are interested, get in touch with @Spaceman or do some googling - it’s not too hard to find.