What you need to know about Soylent, the so-called “food of the future”

Probably one of the biggest aspects of our society: food. Not only is it something we need and depend on for, ya know, sustenance, but it’s become an integral cog in social functions: going out for a dinner date, having a business meeting over lunch, cooking a wholesome family breakfast. Take into account personal tastes, diets, health, and food hobbies like cooking or baking, and food is far more than just a biological necessity.

But Rob Rhinehart thinks he’s found a way take out all that fluff and make that “basic need” basic indeed: by bottling a milk-like mixture of all the vitamins and nutrients we need in a formula called Soylent 2.0.

“[Soylent] started as a personal need for myself,” Rhinehart, a San Francisco software engineer, told TIME back in June. “My diet before was pretty poor. I ate mainly convenient cheap foods because I wasn’t really that into food.”

He spent approximately a month researching exactly what the body needs and came up with his creation: vitamins and minerals including calcium, zinc, potassium, and pretty much the entire alphabet of vitamins (you can see the whole ingredient list here). After testing it on himself, he found that he lost weight, always felt full, and was considerably more energetic. Most of this year, Rhinehart has been existing on only Soylent.

Initially, the oft-dubbed “food of the future,” was only in powder form — consumers were to add water at home, allowing them to make as large of a batch as they wanted — but a second product, Soylent 2.0, was just announced today. Now, the simple shake-like beverage will come ready to drink, packaged in recyclable bottles. Currently, you can only pre-order; Soylent 2.0 will be available to buy online, $29 a dozen (one bottle represents one fifth of a daily meal plan).

The powder form, as The Verge points out, was cheaper and more efficient to produce, so why not just stick solely with powder? “Shipping around water is a little inefficient,” Rhinehart told The Verge. “However, we counter that by the fact that the drink does not require refrigeration and also does not spoil until at least one year. Given the amount of food that is thrown away, that spoils, and the unconscionable amount of energy that we spend on refrigeration in the United States, I think that it’s still a vast resource savings over the majority of the food system.”

The bottles are considered a meal replacement and can be used to replace food entirely, but can also be grabbed on the go every so often when you’re too busy to grab breakfast. The bottled version sounds a lot like meal replacement products like Ensure, but Rhinehart ensured (heh) The Verge that this isn’t the case. “It’s really designed in a much different fashion. . . [Ensure and other products are] really not sustainable. I mean, they’re loaded with sugar, they’re just way too sweet, and they don’t really have the macronutrient balance or the glycemic index that I would feel comfortable sustaining myself on or a user on.”

So wait — we know that Soylent 2.0 has plenty of nutrients and all that good stuff, but what is it actually MADE of? One word: algae. Algae oil is used for a full half of the fat content (and yes, the company has hired a flavor scientist to make sure that you don’t feel like you’re drinking a cup of algae oil).

For months, Rhinehart himself was using the powder, but now he’s been switching over to 2.0. “I’ve largely switched to the drink,” he told The Verge. “Actually, I got rid of my refrigerator, and the problem with the powder is you need to keep the pitcher in the refrigerator.”

I’m totally willing to give Soylent 2.0 a try, and it sounds pretty darn cool. . . but TBH, I love me some food. Who knows what will happen in the future, but for now, I’ll hold on to my refrigerator. Baby steps.

(Images via Instagram)


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