Disclaimer: This post was written quite a while ago. Since then, Joylent has stepped up their game massively. They added a bunch of flavors, shipping is way faster, the powder comes in pretty bags, powder is much less grainy, etc etc. So if you find any dealbreakers in this post, chances are they have been updated since then.
Maybe you’ve already heard about Soylent, the American food-alternative that promises a quick, cheap way to gulp down all the nutrients you need. All you have to do is shake together their powder and water, until you have 2 liters of yellowish goo that replaces your 3 meals for a day. It’s been making a lot of waves in the media, with a bunch of people who think food is a necessary evil and love the idea, but also lots of people who think it’s ridiculous and hate it. I’ve seen The Verge review Soylent and one of them actually lived a full month on nothing but these shakes. Here’s a quick video of their experience:
I love eating, especially things that are bad for me (fries, pizza, kebab, cookies, …), but I was very curious to the idea of skipping food and just drinking whatever you need. It’s one of the most interesting alternatives to our current way of eating (which is taking too much from planet earth anyway), especially compared to insects pressed in a burger-form. Sadly, Soylent isn’t shipping outside of the US, and even inside the US you have to wait months before you get your batch. However, Soylent was invented by a developer and he strongly believes in Open Source. The recipe of Soylent can be found on their website and they even host a DIY community where people can test and develop their own recipes based on Soylent. One of those was the Dutch alternative Joylent, and they’re currently shipping it to most of Europe. According to them, it would take about 2 weeks to get my order, but I got it in a little over a week: a box with 5 days of Joylent.
What’s in the box
- A pretty funny, personal letter from the founder of Joylent, with instructions on how to prepare it.
- A 600ml shaker
- 5 bags of about 600g of Joylent powder (1 bag equals to 1 day of food, you need to split it over 3 shakers for your 3 meals)
5 small packs of oil you’ll need to add to the mix as well
- In the more recent batches of Joylent, the oil is somehow mixed in the powder already!
So it basically boils down to this: one bag of powder and one small package of oil, mixed together with water until you get 1,8 liters of Joylent should last you all day without any steady food beyond that. Holding that in my hands was pretty depressing, since it doesn’t really look like much compared to what I usually eat. But hey, losing a bit of weight wouldn’t be bad for me either. Anyway, from here on I’ll be keeping a small journal of my 5 days on Joylent, hope I will still have all my hair and good health when I’m through my batch on Friday (and will probably be stuffing fries down my face again).
Yesterday, I’ve prepared 2 big bottles of Joylent. It actually went pretty easy, I just split the bag of powder in half, threw that in a blender, together with roughly half of the oil and then filled up with water until about 1 liter. Then you just have to turn it on until all the powder is dissolved, pour it in a bottle and place that in the fridge for a night. Did that twice, so I’d have one bottle for home and one to take to work. Joylent advises to fill their shaker 3 times a day, but I wanted to prepare it all at once…
I tried a little sip before I put it in the fridge for the night and actually, it wasn’t even as bad as I thought it would be. I ordered the vanilla-flavored Joylent, so it smelled a bit like vanilla pudding, but definitely tastes a lot healthier, less greasy. It did leave a bit of a powdery taste in my mouth, but as advertised, that did disappear (mostly) after a night in the fridge. (UPDATE: It actually disappears completely in the new batch I ordered, so even better now) Important to know is that I did mix it in a blender, so not with the supplied shaker, not sure if you can get it as smooth that way. (UPDATE: Yes, it does get it equally smooth) I’ll definitely try that later this week.
Did I pass out yet?
No. I actually feel okay now. I did notice you really shouldn’t rush drinking this. After gulping down 3 cups in a pretty fast pace, it felt like I just had all-you-can-eat spare ribs, but without the tasty burps. Even now, over 24 hours after my last meal, I feel fine. I do miss chewing something though, so might get some chewing gum tomorrow. Weird that I miss that more than the taste of cookies. Tomorrow’s batch has a banana mixed in there, that’ll probably help too…
The batch for today had a banana in it. That actually made the shake a lot better, lighter, more like a smoothie. I also tried mixing it with cacao powder, that was less of a success, made it even more heavy. Something to note if you plan on trying this: spread your drinking. I drank a lot during meals and felt insanely full after that, but I got hungry again pretty soon. I guess you need to let go of classic eating patterns if you’re trying Joylent.
Today’s batch had banana in it again. I have to say, living on liquid food is easier than I expected, having the same thing the entire day, every day again makes your stomach turn. So I am convinced of the concept of these shakes, but it’s nothing you want to be drinking every day over again. I honestly don’t know how people keep this up for 3 months. Besides the boredom of the flavour, everything is fine: I feel the same as before, meals aren’t less social, cooking in the evening is much easier and even my poop hasn’t changed much (Yes, people actually asked about this, blame them for sharing). So yay for Joylent, but I do advise them to work on packages with varying flavours!
This is the fourth day I haven’t eaten a solid meal and I’m getting more and more in the routine. The stomach isn’t making weird noises anymore, the preparing and drinking is becoming more and more a part of my day and gas is coming down by the day. That only leaves the taste… Like I said the days before, drinking the same thing day in, day out for a longer time makes your stomach twist upside down. Anyway, I prepared my last bottle for tomorrow, will be drinking my last soylent in the afternoon, the evening is reserved for a butt load of spare ribs. They’ll probably be the best I’ve ever had too! I’ll be doing a last update with a wrap-up after that, probably in the weekend while rubbing my belly stuffed with delicious meat… Is it obvious that I’m looking forward to eating meat again? Hmmmm… Meat…
I’m writing this Saturday while rubbing my belly from having spare ribs last night, spaghetti this morning for breakfast and meatballs for lunch. I started drinking my last bottle of Joylent yesterday morning and I have to say that it felt more normal than ever. I didn’t really have breakfast before, make me hungry as hell around 11 am, now I was keeping energetic by drinking a glass of Joylent every 2 hours or so. Having a desk job, it’s as easy as pouring it from the bottle next to you and drinking while continuing typing. I did look forward to the spare ribs, but I could have easily started this day with Joylent again… Anyway, to wrap up my week, on to a solid conclusion.
They say Soylent and the Dutch variant Joylent are the foods of the future. They put less strain on mother nature, aim for 100% of all the nutrients you need (I’m not a specialist, but that sounds healthy!) and you save a lot of time on both the cooking and eating. I’ve been living on it for 5 days and all those claims were true: I felt fine and energetic and I saved a lot of time throughout the day.
However, there is an obstacle these powders have to overcome: after 3 days of having the same thing, your stomach turns around if you even look at it. And that’s not a problem just for these powders, try having steak 3 times a day, every day and someday you’ll never want to see steak again. (See update below!)
So if you expect Joylent (or Soylent) to replace every meal for the rest of your life: I don’t think it’ll happen. But I don’t think that’s the point either. The point is that they offer an alternative, and even if we would replace one meal a week, it would make a massive difference. Joylent is pretty much the perfect food to have lying around in your kitchen, to quickly whip up a meal when you don’t feel like cooking or you’re just in a hurry and want to eat while doing something else. If you look at it like that, it’s an amazing product really. Kudos to the guys who are whipping up this wonderful powder, hope their business can keep on growing like it is now. I’ll definitely place another order, never know when I might feel like one of those shakes and skip cooking!
Okay, so I ordered a new batch when they added a bunch of new flavors, so I got a package with Vanilla, Banana, Strawberry and Chocolate flavored Joylent. They even added Mango after receiving my box, so they keep innovating on flavors right now. It basically meant you can switch between different tastes throughout your day or week. Maybe it’s also because I have been using Joylent just every now and then, but the experience got even better this time.
Also, I’m not sure about this one, but I have a feeling they changed the formula a bit. The result is much less grainy if you ask me. With the previous batch, I could taste some grainy… Well, a bit like sand but less hard. This time, it’s much more evened out, which makes it a lot more fun to drink.
All in all: definitely improving on the concept and even more of a recommendation than before!