I miss dumplings: my initial foray into soylent only
Weight: 82 kg
The idea of knowing full well you will be giving up something as ritualistic as eating does something to you.
As an experiment for the Weal, I’ve decided to forego eating regular food, replacing my entire diet with Soylent, an all-American meal replacement beverage that not only fills you up (each bag containing 2,000 calories, 500 per meal) but also meets all the nutritional needs required by an average adult.
In Psychology Today, an article written by Dr. Jean Kim, titled Soylent Bad: America’s Toxic Relationship With Food asks the most obvious question: “Why voluntarily give up the gift of flavor, the gift of food, the sensory appreciation of life, for a couple extra hours to finish spreadsheets?” Though plenty of experiments have been done in the past, with some favourable and unfavourable reviews, I wanted to know how it would benefit students under a budget or with little time to cook their own meals due to homework, tests, and other responsibilities.
After all, the company behind the product espouses increased productivity.
But, to be honest, I was also just plain curious.
Having ordered a shipment of Soylent containing 14 bags, or 56 meals, costing no more than $108 USD a month ($128 USD without a subscription), the first few days of anticipating for the package to arrive were exciting.
That didn’t last long.
As the days drew nearer to the actual date it would arrive and, thusly commencing my new liquid regime, I had grown anxious.
The prospect of giving up food was a challenge, and I found myself frantically going out of my way to restaurants (as many times as I could) and ordering a bevy of dishes, savouring each one: bite-by-bite, piece-by-piece.
Oddly enough, even the worst dish proved to be the most delicious thing.
At home, I would do the same—eating as many leftovers as I could, as many sweets as I could, before the impending date.
Day 1: I’m not going to lie and say I didn’t cry a little on the inside when I saw the plain, white box containing my only source of food—a brownish, sandy mixture that smelled fairly neutral and unbecoming.
Making a batch without a blender is an arduous task: as hard as I tried, clumps of brown would form at the top, and drinking that from a glass wasn’t easy as the taste was gritty, a little off-putting but more-or-less what most people have said it tasted like: pancake batter (although many have said Soylent’s latest powder formula, 1.5, has the worst taste of them all).
I don’t like the taste of pancake batter—
sweet things for breakfast don’t have an appeal for me. I like savoury, often spicy foods. Drinking my first batch (improperly made, mind you), I found myself swigging the mixture, trying my best to not have the liquid rest on my tongue, as I would cringe every time it did.
Aside from the taste, I felt fine—a little more energized than usual but other than an impending sense of depression due to my neutered palate, everything was normal.
Day 2: Various users from the forum discourse.soylent.com said a good way to prepare a batch was to blend it and leave in the fridge overnight prior to drinking. Having tried that (as well as adding a few teaspoons of cinnamon to improve the taste), the difference was night and day.
Not worrying to pack a lunch or purchase any food during the day, I carried a litre of Soylent around school, drinking half-a-cup (enjoyably) throughout most of the morning till early evening. I noticed that I had increased energy, I was a lot more attentive, and I also had the urge to just do something—perfect for copyediting, one of my main duties as an editor for the Weal.
Aside from being more lively, I noticed something else: I was getting moodier—more so than usual—and very short-tempered. The slightest things would irk me and my mind would race for long periods of time—drinking another glass helped, albeit momentarily.
Days 3-5: I started to crave Soylent; my urge to eat lessened each day. I was full, energized, and all in all satiated. One problem, I found, was the fluctuations of my mood: I would be angry for a short while, then sad, then happy, then angry again.
Doing some research and some consulting, I found that my body was undergoing a cleanse (especially since I binge ate the entire week prior to my new diet). The amount of refined sugars that I ingested was minimal (each meal contains 15 grams of sugar).
According to the World Health Organization, allowances of sugar intake should be 25 grams or fewer each day—the average Canadian, however, consumes over 110 grams of sugar per day, or 26 teaspoons, according to a Statistics Canada report from 2011.
Being an average Canadian, the difference was huge.
Days 6-7: Settling into the lifestyle, though I do inquire about what people eat very often. My sense of smell is a lot stronger. These past two days I’ve been craving pan-fried pork dumplings with red rice vinegar and steamed bok choy—for now, however, I’ll stick with the Soylent.