Soylent uses soy protein, oat flour, and other food-sourced ingredients; and it also uses choline chloride and other synthetic molecules to provide specific nutrients. I wonder if a 100% synthetic Soylent would be possible at commercial scale?
Currently, we reduce the amount of expensive protein in animal feed by supplementing with synthetic amino acids. Synthetic methionine, lysine, and tyrosine are all common, and allow low-crude-protein diets to produce high-quality chickens by maximizing the amount of specific available amino acids. Likewise, certain amino acids are less-available bound into proteins (L-Tyrosine is notable for this in humans: L-Tyrosine pills are more of a drug than a supplement; humans synthesize it from L-Phenylalanine), and so a dietary need for those available amino acids is met by providing free amino acids in lower quantities than available in a a sufficient amount of crude protein.
In humans, free amino acids above certain dietary intake can have harmful effects. Mostly this is because chickens are grown to large, fat, meaty birds in a few weeks, then killed; while all human lifecycle engineering–from healthcare to nutrition–aims to extend and maximize the quality-of-life of those humans. That means complex proteins are required, and synthetic protein can fill for protein intake while 100g of free amino acids would probably cause psychiatric problems and damage your vital organs.
I would be interested in a highly-synthetic Soylent–indeed, I’d find it a scientific marvel to produce a completely lab-rendered food for reasonable cost. Fermentation is a valid synthesis process, as is simple organic chemistry: bioreactors and pure chemical synthesis are both valid ways to achieve this.
Even a partially-synthetic Soylent could provide a higher-protein diet with synthetic proteins and amino acids, if they could be rendered cheaply. Personally, I like the 25%-40% carbohydrate intake range, whereas the standard advice is 40%-70% intake from carbohydrates, and the low-carb diets all target less than 10%. At 25% carbohydrate and 40% fat, that leaves 35% protein–an option which would likely have cost implications as-is.
Besides. I’d like to see a highly- or purely-synthetic option as a beacon of hope in a world where science has been rejected in favor of claims of “Natural” “Non-GMO” “Everything Is Toxic But Me” products from Ample Meal.