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Soylent Night, Holy Night

Do you often find yourself too busy to cook?
Do you identify as malnourished?
Trendy?
O F  T H E  F U T U R E ?

If so, Soylent is the answer to all of your dystopian dreams. Soylent is a nutritional shake that, supposedly, is wholesome enough to replace all solid food in your diet. It comes in powder form – a blend of vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients – that you mix with water before consuming. With Soylent, you would not have to bother with cooking, eating, or maintaining a balanced diet. Everything is there, suspended in a tasteless, odorless post-food viscosity.

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Soylent has attracted a lot of URL hype in the past few months. Rob Rhinehart, the creator of Soylent, has high hopes for his product. He believes that Soylent will someday flow from our faucets alongside hot and cold water. He sees it as a solution for everyone from over-worked 30-somethings to the millions that die from hunger each year. (You can read an interview with Rhinehart here and check out his Kickstarter page here.) I suppose Soylent would appeal to some, but doing away with all of the social and sensory aspects of eating is a little hard to stomach.

Imagining a family conversation taking place over a meal of Soylent is as morbid as it gets. “I will soon be Nothing,” my grandma might say. “Same,” I’d mutter before staring into my portion’s gritty remains. There would be a collective sigh. Silence. A glass shatters and my mother begins to cry.

As someone whose diet consists of fried eggs and pizza, I would surely benefit from the nutritional value of Soylent. But as someone who Doesn’t Leave the Internet, I have no use for Soylent’s reduced-meal-prep appeal. Like many college students, I have all the time in the world to spend feeding myself. I rarely bother with complicated recipes, but when I do, I like to think that they teach me discipline and stuff. There is something beautiful about the process of creating nourishment from a slew of fragmentary ingredients. Even cooking eggs can be satisfying in a life-is-transient sort of way. But for those of us who are too busy to bother with food, all I have to say is this: the only thing more depressing than not having enough time to feed yourself is choosing to choke down a thick, tasteless liquid as a trendy alternative to Not Feeding Yourself.

 

Last week I got food poisoning from an avocado — just another reminder that everything you love will soon make waste of your being — and the experience made me reconsider my stance on Soylent. With a supply of Soylent, I would not have to deal with this. I would no longer rely on my blind faith in multivitamins. I would no longer set off the fire alarm cooking fried eggs. I would no longer curse the overpriced everything of CityCo. “Life would be so simple,” I thought to myself. But just as my bout with food poisoning had emptied out my stomach, I couldn’t get over the E M P T I N E S S of a life without food. My queasiness passed. I shuddered. I returned to my opinion that Soylent is total dystopian BS.

So here we are in the first week of December. Before long, we will be sitting down to our holiday meals that will hopefully consist of holiday foods. If my family read my articles, I’d probably try to slip a Soylent eggnog onto the menu as a cute little IRL LOL. But my family does not read my articles. They would not “get” the Soylent. I would be embarrassed. In tears. A glass shatters and the dinner is ruined. So, no – there will be no Soylent.

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