Soylent is a food technology company that produces meal replacement shakes, bars, powders, and even a coffee drink, for consumer purchase. The CEO and founder is Rob Rhinehart, and the company is headquartered out of Los Angeles, California.
Soylent came into being when the founder and a few other colleagues were in the startup tech business world. They were living on heavily processed foods, which made them feel unhealthy, and the food wasn’t enjoyable to consume. Essentially, they were too busy coding to cook. But they also recognized a world “where nearly one billion people do not have sufficient access to affordable food while more than two billion people are overweight or obese – both groups are malnourished.” The company’s overall goal is to make healthy food accessible, affordable, environmentally friendly, and sustainable.
The Soylent Drink: One 14-oz bottle provides you over 20% of your daily nutritional needs, quick and convenient for those looking to have nutrition on the go. There are three flavors: Original, Nectar, and Cacao. They all have soy protein isolate, sunflower oil, Isomaltulose, and a variety of different vitamins and minerals. Each bottle is 400 calories, with 37g of carbohydrates, and 20g of protein. Each bottle runs anywhere from $2.69-$3.09 with a monthly subscription. You can buy the bottles in multiples of 12, between 12 and 144. The 12-bottle monthly subscription is $32.30 per month, or $39.00 without subscription, plus shipping (3-7 business days). To see the entire list of ingredients click here.
Coffiest: Similar to the meal replacement options explained above, but coffee-flavored. Marketed to be your breakfast and your morning coffee for less cost. Coffiest contains soy protein isolate, sunflower oil, Isomaltulose, and a variety of different vitamins and minerals. It also includes caffeine, which will mimic that daily cup of coffee. Price: 12 bottles on subscription for $37.05 per month, or $39.00 without subscription, plus shipping. To see the entire list of ingredients click here.
The Soylent Bar: The products are marketed as simple when you look at their packaging. They try to take the confusion out of nutrition as there is only one flavor shown, which is caramel. The bars contain 12.5% of your daily nutritional needs, and they are currently unavailable to date.
There was a recall on the Soylent food bar in late 2016 due to the fact that the bars were making customers sick. There was a recent statement on Soylent’s website:
It has recently come to our attention that a small number of our customers have experienced gastrointestinal issues after consuming Soylent Bars…As a precautionary measure, we are halting all Soylent Bar purchases and shipments and are advising our customers to discard any remaining bars in their possession.
One bar used to cost $1.90 and contained 250 calories. A 12-bar monthly subscription cost $22.80, or $24.00 without one. Each bar contains soy protein isolate, algal flour, Isomaltulose, and a variety of different vitamins and minerals. Per bar there are 30 grams of carbohydrates, 12 grams of protein, and 210 mg of sodium. To see the entire ingredient list for this bar click here.
Soylent Powder: The powder is meant to be mixed with water for quick and easy nutrition. It is essentially marketed as powdered food that takes no time to make, and is half the cost of eating out. For 7 bags—around 35 meals—the cost will start at $54.00 if you sign up monthly. It will be $64.00 without a monthly subscription. The powder consists of soy protein isolate, canola oil, Isomaltulose, and a variety of different vitamins and minerals. If you want to see the full list of ingredients for the powder click here. Each serving has 400 calories, and it has a neutral taste with no flavor.
On April 24, 2017 the FDA released a statement concerning milk in Soylent products that was not made aware to customers. Apparently some whey powder from another product at the third-party manufacturing facility inadvertently got mixed in with the Soylent, which is marketed as lactose-free.
Soylent, Los Angeles, CA is voluntarily recalling 890 boxes of Soylent 1.8 Powder, because it may contain undeclared milk. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to milk run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products.”
Thankfully no one has been reported ill from the powder, but the recall is still ongoing.
The specific information on the recall: Lot #: G7076PA (printed on the front of the bag), Expiration / Best Buy date: 02/2018
What’s The Word?
Now that there is background on the products offered, where can you buy them? They are currently sold at their main website, and on Amazon.com. A popular product on Amazon is the Soylent drink, but there were mixed reviews on the product, averaging 3.9 out of 5 stars over 1500+ reviews.
Christopher Patao said, “So far I’ve tasted Nectar and the original. Nectar has a very interesting taste and does take some time to adjust to. First time I had it, the taste made me think “wow. I’m drinking flowers.” The more I drank the more flowers I felt I was ingesting. And not edible orchids that have a faint taste.”
Hua said, “I love Soylent but Cacao is easily the worst flavor in my opinion. 2.0 tastes like Cheerios milk, Coffiest takes like really creamy coffee, Nectar tastes like Fruity Pebble milk, but Cacao is the only one that has a really artificial taste to me.”
While the flavors are neither widely loved nor hated, this leaves some room for skepticism. A skeptic named Chris Ziegler wanted to see what would happen when he lived solely off of Soylent drinks for one full month. At first it was rough, as his body had to get used to the abrupt change in diet, and it caused some moderate gastrointestinal distress (basically, gas), but he did lose 12 pounds.
Mr. Ziegler said the toughest part of the journey was the social and culinary aspects of eating being completely ripped from his grasp. A liquid diet was not social, and the joy of food was gone. He was surprised at how his body didn’t grow weary of the shakes though, and he said, “If you just hate food, I can pretty confidently say Soylent is the solution for you. Otherwise, it’s mainly a great reminder of why food is awesome: it looks good, it tastes great, and it brings us together. No pitcher of Soylent is ever going to do that.”
Overall, the main consensus from a trusted customer base is that the product is nice but the flavors (like anything) are not for everyone. Before you buy a monthly subscription if you are interested, it might be best to see if your body can tolerate it first, and which flavors appeal. The original flavor has a slightly sweet oatmeal taste, so if you are cautious with flavor it might be best to start out bland. And if your social life tends to revolve around meals and drinks with friends, it may not be for you; the company meant for these products to be on-the-go and stuck-at-my-desk options, not gourmet meals.
What Does Soylent Offer?
The company offers the customer a different spin on nutrition without the cost, or wait for cooking. The whole idea behind this company was to create an easy and accessible way for people to have nutrition. There have been articles written on the idea of this company starting the “End Of Food” revolution, which probably will never happen. However, an article written by Lizzie Widdicomb talks about the expansion of flavor when she met with the CEO:
Rhinehart is reluctant to associate Soylent with any flavor, so for now it just contains a small amount of sucralose, to mask the taste of the vitamins. That seems to fit his belief that Soylent should be a utility. “I think the best technology is the one that disappears,” he said. “Water doesn’t have a lot of taste or flavor, and it’s the world’s most popular beverage.
Some people really don’t like the grainy texture of the drinks and powders, but both products do contain nutrition if that is the only thing you are looking for. Soylent provides its customers direct access to see every ingredient in their products and they also give you the nice option of a monthly subscription or one-time purchase.
Based on our research people frequently try to compare Soylent to other brands. Often the brands and their products are different in many ways which makes it hard to compare apples-to-oranges. This is our attempt to compare below 6 and pick the winner. This is not necessarily to say that we recommend any of the winners, instead this is simply author’s opinion when asked to compare each. Please take this information with the grain of salt and do your own research. If making dietary changes we recommend consulting with your medical doctor.
|Soylent||Trim Down Club (Favorite)|
Ensure vs Soylent
First, a true story. I worked with a young guy (late 20s) who was rail thin but seemingly fit (although I had overheard him saying he despised any type of exercise, so who knows? He was always fully clothed.) Anyway, this young man, who was quite brilliant, was a huge Soylent fan. He drank it every day as a meal replacement. I tasted it. Yuck. I didn’t want to be rude but was curious and when I asked him why in the world he’d replace meals with this …stuff, he was clear: “It’s better than fast food.” Pretty low bar, don’t you think? Geez. Ensure vs Soylent. Let’s go. The thing about Soylent for me, is that it’s more a social philosophy and statement than anything. We are fat. We waste food. We’re better off getting nutrition from this concoction than all the money we spend (and waste) on purchasing food. Just drink your way to health and at the same time, save the Earth, maybe. I empathize with the concept of trying to do the right thing. But this is not the way, folks. Period. Yes, it contains some nutrition, but so does Ensure. Or each claims to. (I honestly don’t know what meal replacement shakes and drinks have against food.) Anyway, Ensure has a couple dozen vitamins and minerals and it claims that of doctors that recommend meal replacements shakes for their patients, Ensure is their favorite. I can’t make it through all the asterisks, so we’ll take their word for it. Even though it claims to provide complete and balanced nutrition, I have read research that has physicians cautioning, especially the elderly, to be aware that it does not contain all the nutrients they need. At 200 to 350 calories, if you replace two meals a day and then eat a low calorie meal, you’ll likely consume far too few calories. Not a fan of either, but if you’ve tried Ensure (chances are if you’ve messed with meal replacement drinks, then you have) then I suppose you could try Soylent. I’ll tell you more about them in a minute to help you decide.
Huel vs Soylent
I am old enough to remember the movie Soylent Green; I was in high school and saw it in the theater. It was frightening and now laughable, only not really. So the world is starving and overpopulated and there’s a ration called Soylent Green and there’s a murder and …well, stream it because I don’t do spoilers. Anyway, the idea is similar in that we’re talking about food rations, but in another way. Take Huel which claims to be nutritionally complete, everything you need to stay alive and thrive as a powdered food. It’s high protein, no added sugar, lasts for a year, is vegan and not wasteful. Huel is on the same page as Soylent. We are in a global food crisis and so many people are either overweight or starving and food is wasted at an alarming rate. I don’t disagree. But is powdered food now the answer? Lots of people, especially Millennials and Gen Z’ers are on board apparently. Powders run about $2 to $3 a meal (Huel is a UK-based company and is sold in the U.S. and Germany). Easy, not wasteful, cheap, and better for the planet, they say. I don’t know. Maybe. But I’m 60 and I may end up having to drink my food sooner than later so for now I plan to continue to shop, cook, and eat. But since I already have a Soylent experience, let’s check out Huel.
Jimmy Joy vs Soylent
Jimmy Joy is another European-based company on the drink-your-meals bandwagon. I don’t mean that disrespectfully; I get what they’re hoping to accomplish: less waste, good nutrition, eat (or drink) to live, don’t live to eat. I was around during Zero Population Growth (ZPG) movement so I understand this all conceptually. Science has little problem with swapping out meals for drinks, if they’re packed with nutrition as Jimmy Joy says that they are. The Netherlands company sells ‘Plenny’ shakes and bars made from soy, cacao, flax, whey, vitamins, fruits and oats. They say they’ve sold more than 7 million meals in almost 90 countries. People like this stuff. Or at least, like the idea of it. If you’re interested in this kind of eating, which I suppose could help you lose weight if done properly, it’s worth a shake. So Jimmy Joy for the sake of saying, ‘been there, done that.’
Slim Fast vs Soylent
Well, well. Now here’s a meal replacement shake that’s not at all concerned with cheap nutrition that could help cut back on food waste, feed starving people, and help overweight people lose pounds. SlimFast is concerned with the latter and making money. No contest. If you want to try a meal replacement as a way to lose weight, you are at least contributing something to the world: Soylent says it uses science and technology as a means to help fix what’s wrong with the current global food system and help get nutrition to people who need it. So for that reason, Soylent.
Schmilk vs Soylent
Not going to lie, I was turned off by the name of this product. But I was premature. It’s a silly name but I’m almost intrigued with it. You add milk to their powders to do a low-carb or keto-like diet. Schmilk supposedly tastes like cereal milk (back when I used to eat Special K, my favorite part was the cereal milk at the end which I always gulped down) so if it tastes just like that, as it claims, I may like it. The company started as a California-based startup to create the ideal diet in drink form, mostly ketogenic and high protein based. Not too expensive, vegan, and with no added sugars. Sounds kind of interesting. And though I like the concept behind Soylent, I’m a fan of reducing bad carbs, so if I was to do a meal replacement shake as part of a low-carb diet, I might try Schmilk. But it had better taste like the bottom of that cereal bowl.
Trim Down Club vs Soylent
I like the idea of Soylent and I support the concept as a way to help the overweight get healthier and the hungry get nutrition And if that’s all that was going on I might be inclined to rate it more highly, but I don’t think it or any of these meal replacement shakes can hold a candle to Trim Down Club because, call me old-fashioned, but I believe in eating whole, fresh, and healthy food. I wish the whole world had access to nutrition this way. (It’s a disgrace that many of us often do not because of poverty or geography.) Regardless, we’re here talking about us overweight folks trying to get healthy and the Trim Down Club is about that too, it’s what they’re all about: real, whole, good-for-you-only food, lots of exercise and a ton of support. It’s inexpensive to join and share your struggles of weight loss with thousands of friends. This makes sense to me.
Is Soylent Worth A Try?
Worth a try. While liquid lab-made nutrition is not for everyone, it is a nice option to have if you need it. The recalls done on the two different Soylent products are concerning, but the company has handled the situation well, and has given existing customers the option of a full refund if they want it. If you hate to cook, or simply don’t have time to cook or go out to eat, it provides nutrition for survival a lot better than your average vending machine.