The case against neutral only flavor in 1.4



I didn’t find entirely fit any existing topic to share this, but please let me know if you think otherwise. This thread is not about tips for flavor, but rather the discussion on why neutral flavoring in 1.4 could be problematic.

Basically I went shopping today for flavoring stuff and since I recently have tried to become more educated on nutrition I encountered a very simple problem with the neutral flavor idea: you are at a high risk of introducing negative elements in your soylent through the process of finding a flavor that works for you. From significant amounts of sugar, to doubtly healthy foods with gluten, oxidized or trans fats and sweeteners that could cause cravings or even affect insulin sensitivity.

When you buy Soylent you trust the dedication of the team to have balanced nutrition and strong science involved in the formulation of your food. It’s just not that simple to do that with the ingredients you find in the grocery store or the lesser knowledge you are likely to have compared to the Rosa Labs team. I’m mostly concerned about negatively affecting my sugar levels, causing food cravings, risking weight gain and turning Soylent in the opposite of good nutrition through the excess of some ingredients.

It’s not hard to argue that taste cannot be entirely ignored because it could have appeared as a protective measure to avoid bad food, we might be (to some extent) wired to react to flavor. From this the taste of 1.4 which can be very salty results in an imposibility to drink it for lots of people. It’s not like it doesn’t taste very well, it sometimes comes close to vomit inducing. Of course this differs widely, but the general impression I find on the forum isn’t very positive about 1.4 flavoring. So it’s not like we can make widely extended asumptions about the viability of taking soylent as it comes, hence the topic on flavoring which are quite active.

I perfectly understand why neutral flavor sounds great, but understanding what this implies in consumer behavior is not that good (diy flavoring and the afore mentioned risks). This made me think that fixing the salty flavor is a must so that actual neutral flavor can be obtained. This is probably the only thing missing to real neutrality in flavor. Connected to this two paths appear in my head: to leave soylent entirely neutral and promote diy flavoring, or to offer a small set of individual flavoring bags that you can add to your neutral soylent. This means soylent bags remaing neutral buy the flavor bags could be also offered. This means you could buy official balanced and well known flavors that may not be as good as Hershey’s sugar filled syrup for you sugar craving mind but certainly enjoyable and healthy.

I have tried DIY, official Soylent and Joylent. From all three, Soylent is the worst by far and I haven’t come to peace with the notion of having to take 1 entire month of 1.4. I will start my flavor journey tonight and one month of potentially affecting the glycemic index of my soylent or some similar downside is not very bad because of the reduced time, but hopefully you agree this is not ideal. Comments and positive discussion on the behavioral risks of diy flavoring would be awesome, I hope to continue being an official Soylent customer but some changed are certainly required to make this viable and I want to contribute to positive change inducing discussion. :smile:

Please let me know if you think this go in so other thread, BTW


It’s not really difficult to flavor Soylent without affecting it’s nutritional profile adversely. I am all for neutrality. Anything else would just get tiring after a while; that, and if you taste the same thing over and over, the perception of the flavor tends to lessen until modified. Even if Soylent used my “favorite flavor” (assuming I could pick one), I still wouldn’t want that.

Soylent should provide a nutritious and neutral base to optionally build on. I’m really not worried about people putting ridiculous crap in their batches, that is their responsibility/prerogative. If they want to be self-defeating by adding something like a “fried whole double chocolate fudge cheesecake”, it doesn’t affect me or any other Soylent user. If flavoring is added to deter such people from doing those kinds of things, it does.


Except, to many people in this forum, the taste is not salty. (I understand that many people do find the taste salty.)

Here’s the crux of sensory-specific satiety: it can cover as wide a swath as possible, but never include everyone. For example, you and I don’t even agree on the saltiness flavor of v1.4. So once RL goes down the flavoring path, it is already forced to go two different directions, just for the two of us.

The case for neutral-only flavor is this: Soylent going for neutral-flavor, Joylent and other companies going for flavored. Consumers have a choice.

The good news for those who want flavor-included Soylent: once RL settles on a baseline neutral-only flavor, they will (most probably) introduce other options, including flavors.


I think if you’re adding a non-caloric sweetener and something benign like vanilla/vanillin or cocoa powder you’ll be okay. I’d worry about adding something like peanut butter unless you’re either trying to gain weight or modulate your caloric intake accordingly. But like @Uueerdo said, it’s really up to the consumer!

This is probably the second or third time I’ve seen flavor packs put forward, and I think the idea has merit. It could be a stepping stone to Rosa Labs eventually selling pre-flavored Soylent varieties. As someone who knows nothing about food manufacturing and packaging it seems like it would be easier to introduce additives than whole new products. I could well be wrong though!


I agree, but I’ve got the same qualifications as you ( :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:).
While it probably wouldn’t take much more work to have several post-processing lines to flavor Soylent before packaging, I am not sure you’d get a lot of people so fond of a particular flavor to consider ordering something like “one month of cherry flavored Soylent” at a time. If they were going to the route of producing flavors, I think it’d be much more efficient to just produce flavor packs tailored for Soylent and sell them for a modest price to provide an additional revenue stream. I’d really like to try something tailored to make Soylent more accomodating to savory tastes; I’ve got sweet down pretty well (bananas, chocolate, cardamom, imitation X extract, etc…), but I don’t trust my abilities enough to shoot for something like a chili or curry flavored one.


I doubt Soylent will ever be truly “neutral”. It surely isn’t neutral now. It has a very distinct odor and flavor. I think the best we can hope for is a “mild” flavor base that is easily added to for those who want something a little more exciting.

FWIW, I’m in the “not too salty” camp for 1.4.


The problem is, none of those companies (from what I’ve read anyway) have gotten close to Soylent in terms of texture and taste. Granted, the only alternative soylent I’ve tried to date has been Schmilk (which I didn’t like at all despite being a big milk fan) but from talking with others and reading online, nobody has anything with as fine-grained a texture or as non-specific a flavor (prior to 1.4 that is) as Soylent.

The issue as far as I can tell is specifically the sunflower. That appears to me to be the factor that has caused all the trouble with 1.4. And sweetening it doesn’t help - it just makes it taste like sweetened burnt sunflower. I haven’t tried flavorings yet myself but again, I’m not really convinced the sunflower flavor itself can be neutralized. Would be great if someone figures out how in a way that is actually universal, but I’m not holding my breath on that one just because of how individual taste perception clear is.

“Neutral” looks really good on paper, but in practice it can never be hit for everyone because everyone’s perception of neutral is individual.


Heh! I replied two days ago to you on the exact same thing. Of course they can’t hit “true neutral.” RL’s goal is to aim for a baseline neutrality that applies to the largest percentage of customers.


Yeah… the sad thing about “aiming for the middle” is that everyone on either end of that spectrum gets left out in the cold. I really really really hope that doesn’t end up including us. :frowning:


I agree that a single flavor would get tiresome, so it should ideally be added not included. I do however disagree with @Uueerdo in that Soylent’s strongest long term viability resides in its ability to add as a trusted entity to supply balanced nutrition in their pouches, otherwise you are getting all too close to DIY at a significantly higher price. I understand how for some people the understanding of the additives is their decision and responsibility. But do you really think it’s that easy to explain that insulin sensitivity is reduced by aspartame and hence you should be careful if your 0 calorie coffee creamer has it? If extending this sort of knowledge could be viable maybe the entire situation of nutrition at mass wouldn’t be such a problem. I agree on whose responsibility is, but I’d like to stand on the side of reality and real observed behavior rather than the ideal of the informed consumer. In a sense I fill the position of the informed consumer but want to consider the side of a more common buyer, this is ideal for everyone in that the benefits can be carried to a broader market.

Also neutrality is indeed a complicated idea by the very notion of the wide spectrum that @Ric mentioned. If I had to make a notion of neutral I’d go for something like powdered milk, unsweetened cream or those liquid probiotics.

@Ric point is good, there are other people going for other options like flavored Soylent, but I have a problem with this and it’s that it’s very obvios that RL has the most resources and great access to sophisticated formulation, production lines and highly informed advisors influencing the product. This means that it’s on my best interest to obtain a viable product for me (and as many people as possible, hence my problem with decision making in the diy process when given to the masses) because that would imply I keep gaining the benefits of their effort in exchange for acquiring their product. It’s this reciprocal benefit that I see at stake, granted of course it’s a bit of drama given today extent of Soylent consumption. But I don’t think it’s not crazy to expect Soylent to grow into a global company with more weight on its product limiting the viability of saying that what you add is on your hands and we know it can both good and bad.

There’s no consensus on the neutrality topic certainly, I was wondering if maybe proposing referential notions of neutrality could help? I gave mine already: powdered milk, unsweetened cream and some liquid probiotics.


Yep. But mathematically, if you aim for one end of the spectrum, a much larger population gets left out in the cold.

But I wouldn’t worry too much. In the course of product development, it isn’t unusual to dislike a particular release. If you liked other versions, then in the long run RL is going in the direction that works for you. “Two steps forward, one step back” is still forward movement. :runner:


Oh, I definitely agree with that. Long term, once the company has grown significantly, I see absolutely no problem with offerings of diverse flavoring options. But I think a neutral (as is possible without compromising nutrition) flavor version should always be among the offerings. It’s easier to turn a formula designed as neutral into “strawberry” than it is to turn a formula designed to be sweet into a neutral one.


Yep, I’m still optimistic and Soylent has been such a phenomenal thing for our lives, that we’re willing to do a moderate amount of modification to it if need be, in order to continue consuming it. Sure it’s less than ideal, but it’s still far better than not having Soylent at all!! :slight_smile:


Are you sure vannila/vannilin or cocoa powder are benign?


I am deeply unworried about the tiny amounts of vanilla and of orange and tangerine essential oil that I’m adding to my Soylent. If I was using ten times as much I wouldn’t be worried.


I am happy for you. But the poster didnt say anything about quantity, just a blanket statement that they are benign. Also ‘cumulative’ effects, small quantities consumed over time could lead to cumulative effects.


You have to give up something to gain something. Nothing is free. This applies to physics, engineering, relationships, personal finance, and everything else in life including food. I knew going into this that I would have to give up taste, but I knew that I would gain time, nutritional completeness, and simplicity. The bottom line: Soylent is NOT a smoothie. Soylent is NOT a shake. Soylent is a reasonably affordable, nutritionally complete meal replacement that requires minimal prep time. That’s all it is folks. It cannot be that and be the best tasting, best consistency, award winning smoothie. It just cannot. Adding a bunch of flavorings and chemicals just reinforces food addiction and adds unneeded complexity. I think we have to appreciate Soylent for what it is.


Drinking too much water can kill you but I’m not worried about that either.


What you want to worry about or dont worry about is your prerogative. But dont go around saying they are benign to other people when they are not.


Really? Why not?

Challenge accepted. :wink: