The Time I Tried To Explain Soylent to 2 Professors and a Food Critic on TV


This is an edited version of my earlier post on the /soylent subreddit

The other day I received an unexpected message from a producer at The Agenda with Steve Paikin, a well-known current affairs program here in Canada. Apparently, he had seen a post of mine on Twitter and wanted me to take part in a panel discussion on the future of food.

Naturally, I agreed, thinking it would be with a group of other like-minded people talking about the possibilities of alternative foods (Soylent, Beyond Meat, etc.) and the potential of technology to reshape the way we eat. Apparently, Rob was even supposed to make an appearance, so I knew this was too great an opportunity to miss.

By this point (and based on the title) I’m sure you all know what’s coming… but I don’t want to spoil it for you.

You can watch the full video here (you may need a proxy if you’re outside of Canada)

For what it’s worth, the cast and crew (especially Steve) were absolutely fantastic. After we finished taping, they all came onto the set to try Soylent.

@rob, I used my last package for the program… any chance some 1.4 could find its way to Canada soon?


I watched this earlier today. 2 of the other 3 people (aside from the neutral host I mean) were pretty clearly openly hostile to even the idea of Soylent and third wasn’t crazy about it either.

They kept harping on people eating together and how that goes away with Soylent, especially the family dinner table. I have heard this a million times from a million different people. Although people can of course use Soylent for a quick on the run meal, it doesn’t have to be that way. Can’t people sit around the dinner table consuming Soylent? Less food prep time, less clean up time and thus more sitting around the table looking at each other time? Right? More people actually looking at each other and talking instead of looking down at the plate and putting food into their mouths.

Another thing to stress if you’re ever in that position again is the ethic of Soylent of improving as we gain more knowledge. So the one lady dissed Soylent 1.0 (which the people on the show were consuming, in case readers haven’t seen it) and she said “Maltodextrin as the first ingredient? That’s bad,” or whatever. Yeah, okay, I don’t know much about maltodextrin, but it was version 1.0. The idea was to get SOMETHING going, and something that does includes good things like vitamins and minerals too, and that’s what 1.0 was, and then go on to develop it and make it better. So 1.4 is out now and the top ingredient is no longer maltodextrin. And they’re working on reducing the glycemic index with isomaltulose in this new version. The GI of a potato, OTOH, isn’t going to change.

Lots of people, including the ones on that show, attack Soylent by saying roughly “The current version has these limitations.” An obvious rejoinder to that is, it’s always getting better. The conventional food industry is so mature as an industry that any improvements will be incremental. Soylent OTOH, and the other new things coming along now like Hampton Creek (plant based eggs) and lab grown meat (from cow stem cells and still in very early development) are going to improve by leaps and bounds because research into the best way of doing them is so new.

The one lady was trying to diss the environmental impacts. Are you kidding? If you could account for everything now I suspect Soylent is more environmentally friendly now than regular farming but regardless, like in the previous paragraph regular farming can only improve incrementally in environmental terms whereas Soylent can improve by orders of magnitude.

Canada, We Hear You!

I thought you did a great job. As the commentor above stated, two of the three guests began as openly hostile to the idea (as many initially are), and by the end, while I doubt they were excited about the idea, it felt as if you had begun to break down their hostility, explaining why their fears may not be totally rational.

I think when people talk about Soylent “saving the world” its more important to look at it from the perspective of resources, rather than its ability to be distributed in a disaster scenario. Soylent, by all measures, is drastically less harmful to the environment than conventional diets, and is even slightly less harmful than a vegan diet (at least in terms of gallons of water/day). If we are going to feed people in impoverished countries, or help people get access to clean water, we are going to have to stray from conventional food, and especially from meat. We have enough clean water and land to create food for the global population, it is our eating habits that prohibit us from doing so.

EDIT: I thought the host did a good job of being impartial, which in this case meant doing a bit of defending Soylent, since initially it was sort of a 3 against 1 scenario.


It’s really a shame the people that are invited to be panelists on discussions like this don’t read up on the topics they’re going to be discussing on T.V. I guess one lesson learned here is that no matter how disgusted someone is at the thought of Soylent, you can usually get them to agree McDonalds is worse.


Dinner table arguement is stupid… Nothing prevents us from eating a normal dinner with familiy and friends. We don’t have to eat Soylent 100% of the time. And if we do, nothibg prevents us from doing it at a dinner table.

I am personally a guy that could care less about sitting at a dinner table eating food… Even before Soylent came around. :slight_smile:


My gal and I consume Soylent together every. single. day. In the kitchen. In the bedroom. In our offices. In the car. Wherever the hell we happen to be, whatever the hell we happen to be doing. That’s one of the great things… we have SO much more time to enjoy each other’s company, because we don’t spend nearly as much time shopping for, prepping, consuming, and cleaning up after conventional food.

People seriously need to get a clue. smh


keep in mind that rob was posting critical reviews of the product himself, specifically because criticism is an important part of this product’s development. so don’t feel like it being shot down over the air is a loss, hardly the case. Good job!


From my point of view, the “dinner table” argument fails because (I think sadly), a lot of families don’t even have a dinner table anymore. Each member of the family grazes through the cupboards for their own stuff on their own timetable.

And, besides, Soylent doesn’t eliminate dinner table unless you let it.



Also, the panelists forgot that correlation doesn’t equal causation.
Yes, those who don’t eat at dinner tables are less likely to be healthy, but that’s because they probably have fast food instead.


I will say that the host seems like a really nice guy who does his best to remain unbiased :slight_smile: Just like any host should be. I like the part where he defends the taste/texture of Soylent, while the critic complains about the chalky texture. (“I don’t mind”)


My thoughts exactly.


It doesn’t address anything other than convenience.

Talk about a rough quote from their expert (Irena). That came right after saying it wasn’t anymore healthy than oatmeal o.O

By the end of the discussion she was willing to concede one more point, of course not that it was healthy, but that at least Soylent isn’t sexist like traditional food. I think I would have a very difficult time relating to this Irena person.


I think the old adage that there’s no such thing as bad press is especially true with Soylent. People’s reactions are going to be what they are going to be, just getting the word out is good enough.


What if they don’t own a dinner table? Or prefer to eat while watching TV? I sincerely doubt that people “probably have fast food” just because they don’t eat at a “dinner table”.


It’s extremely hard to interpret data that is that generalized.
Obviously, not counting nutrition, eating soylent while watching tv is probably the same as eating “real” food while watching tv.

What is probably better than the dinner table is probably using time saved from soylent to do things like taking a walk, etc.


I remember the Motherboard documentary about how he was feeling lonely and depressed after only consuming Soylent for 30 days yet you see clips of him sitting at the restaurant with his friends. Do you have to move your jaw up and down making crunchie noises in order for the experience to be social? What stopped the guy from going out and being social with friends? How long do people take to eat? 15-30 mins? So that’s it? That’s all the socialization you have for the day is eating? Maybe that’s why he was feeling lonely and depressed? It just seems very silly looking back on the documentary.


Which, by the way, you can do WHILE having Soylent for dinner! :wink:

In fact you can even be working out while eating your Soylent meal. I’ve done it. Slightly awkward depending on what you’re doing (swimming wouldn’t really work all that well I imagine!) but it can be done.


Good video. I’m going to send the link to a few people I know. Does a good job of explaining/introducing Soylent to people who do not know about it. (In a very objective and non-preachy way.)


swimming wouldn’t really work

Challenge accepted,


“could care less”? That means you care to some extent. I think you meant to say “I couldn’t care less”.