Water consumption for food production


Not sure how many caught 60 Minutes last Sunday, but they had a great piece on ground water depletion (both in the California central valley and globally). I mentioned it to a friend and he pointed me to some articles on the rise and fall of agriculture in Saudi Arabia (as they depleted their groundwater over a few decades). Digging further I found this web-app for calculating the water required to produce various foods:

National Geographic Water use calculator

Which of course made me wonder… How much fresh water does it take for the production of 2000 kCal of Soylent?
I’m not necessarily volunteering to dig up all the data, but thought perhaps posting this here might motivate others :smirk:


Less than getting the same amount of protein from meat.


Life Without Water

Check out @rob post on his blog about water.

Dying to know the virtual water footprint of Soylent, we contracted an analyst at a Chicago think tank to run a study on the product. The complicated formula and numerous sources, as well as proprietary manufacturing and process information made this difficult and a bit imprecise. However, there was enough published data to end up with a conservative estimate. Rice protein was the biggest issue, given that rice is relatively water intensive to grow and is only about 10% protein by mass. Our rice processor claims they have a 0 carbon footprint and reclaim much of the water used but I couldn’t get many specifics. Not accounting for this we still ended up at 2030L per day of Soylent, which is about 50% of the virtual water footprint of the standard american diet (SAD), 4000L. Not bad. I bet we could lower it though.


Cool! Thanks… I like how the Standard American Diet is “SAD”


Hey @Conor, any news on the water requirements for the production of the Soylent powder? I think I asked this in another thread a while back but can’t find it… Here in California they’re telling us to kill our lawns and take 2 minute showers but I’ve also heard it takes 1800-2000 gallons of water to make a pound of beef. It’d be cool to know the footprint for Soylent. Thanks.


How much water is needed to produce food

I found this article, and based on it, and on the original 102g rice (may no longer be accurate) it takes about 255 Liters of water to make the rice in one day’s supply of Soylent. That’s about 67 gallons.

for corn I’m using the original 165g Maltodextrin and it looks like that is about 135 Liters or 36 gallons.


That break down is on our to do list. It should pop its head up in a blog post. Being LA based ourselves the water shortage directly effects us. Rest assured it is in the pipeline. :+1:


Hey Greg,

I have included a very rough draft of Soylent’s water consumption. This is loosely formed and by no means exact. Due to the frequency of this request @Rob put this together.


Thanks. A little carried away with precision?
I’m a little surprised it’s not more than a 20% reduction. I would have thought just about ANY vegan diet would have been good deal less than the SAD.