Soylent – Is it really possible to move past food?

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We live in a world of harsh realities.

There are some hard facts that the we have to live with such as world hunger, imbalance of wealth, global obesity levels and gender inequality (among many other more contemporary issues such as ‘privacy in the modern world’).

I recently had a discussion with a colleague of mine where I made the assertion that ‘we live in a fundamentally unfair world’ and that anything past that is really down to opinion and personal feeling. I believe this.

Obviously this is a very complicated subject and we had quite a long discussion about it over lunch.
Interestingly, their counterpoint on the subject was (as far as I remember) that we are all connected and as such need to work to overcome the inequality.
To be honest though, even after thinking about this for some time, I still don’t see how their opinion addressed my point regarding the state of the world we live in.

Still, I digress but it was an interesting chat. More on that another time perhaps…

I recently came upon a relatively old concept made new by a software engineer named Rob Rhinehart who describes in his blog the new drink he created, named ‘Soylent’, to completely replace eating. Apparently, his original idea behind the invention of Soylent is because he has little time and money to eat, and he wanted to simplify the process.

I read this with some interest, as this somewhat appeals to me due to my own experiences.

Now this isnt really a new idea, as there have been plenty of shakes and nutritional supplements over the years that ‘can’ replace food for some time by being used as a diet or other temporary supplement of varying reasons, but Rob appears to be aiming much higher with this angle on it.
It seems that Rob wants to completely replace the food in his life pretty much forever with an ouderless, slightly sweet drink that has everything you (Your body) needs already in it. It would contain all the proteins, amino acids, fats, sugars etc in the correct quantities that can be easily consumed saving time and money. It appears to be a simple concept that has never really exploited.

To many this seems like a good idea, and on the funding page for this project the intentions of use cases for this drink including helping combat world hunger and provide cheap and standardised nutritional consumption for those who are unable or unwilling to control their daily nutritional consumption.

I thought I might bring this attention to those unaware of this potentially disruptive project as it has some merit.
At first his idea seems strange, or just wrong, and in some ways it is because it goes against much of what we have been conditioned to understand as normal our entire lives but when considered evenly there are clear benefits. Some of these include wastage and mass production, providing a cheap way to feed the growing populace of this planet.

Of course there would naturally be some resistance to new ideas such as this because, lets face it, people like to eat. By that I dont mean ‘eat to survive’, i mean ‘eat together’ as a social mechanism. People naturally dine together as an activity that is very ingrained into our global social culture, so to consider a world ‘without food’ seems a strange place indeed.

Perhaps this is not a place where some would not like to be, as it threatens what they are, or make a living from.
On the extreme end of this scale, you would potentially do away with some social norms like cooking. We cook together and go to restaurants where we pay chefs to dazzle us with exotic flavours and food texture. But this is an extreme example of what could happen, and it certainly couldnt happen overnight or even quickly.

Rob has apparently considered this and likens daily meal eating to attending the cinema/theatre, in the sense that you may like going to the cinema, but you don’t want to do it 3 times a day…

Which is perhaps a strange comparison, but a clear one nonetheless.

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One thought on “Soylent – Is it really possible to move past food?

    […] it isn’t how to cure world hunger (There are people already on that) or how we’ll be overrun by bar-tending robots one day… No, this is quite […]

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