Meal in a Bottle: Pros and Cons


When my husband ordered us a month’s supply of Soylent, I was skeptical. I thought it’d be just another chalky, sugary, expensive “meal in a bottle” that left me feeling hangry. But the more he told me about it, the more I was intrigued.

Soylent was created by two guys in the tech start-up world who realized they were working 16-hour days and “living off a diet of frozen corn dogs and ramen.” They decided to create a healthy alternative, something they could consume on the go, food that was aligned with their activist principles of sustainability and veganism.

So they created Soylent using soy protein, algal oil, isomaltulose, and vitamins and minerals. The result is an innocuous, milky drink that goes down easy and provides hours of steady energy. It’s affordable, it doesn’t require a giant footprint to produce, and it’s easy to ship. I could see where these guys are aiming with Soylent: we really could feed the world with this stuff. I was hooked. I told everyone I knew about it.

But then I spoke with a colleague who didn’t share my enthusiasm for this miracle “meal in a bottle.”

“So this stuff was designed to allow people to eat on the go, so they don’t have to stop to prepare and eat a meal?” she asked. “Exactly!” I replied, thinking of recent days when I’d chugged a Soylent instead of stopping for breakfast or lunch.

“What about community?” she asked, “What do we give up when we skip meals, drink our nutrition between meetings, push ourselves to work more and more? What about the nourishing ritual or preparing fresh food together? What about taking a break from the go-go-go?”

She had point. I love gathering around a meal with family and friends. I value that time to pause and reflect.

So on those mornings when I dash out the door, Soylent in hand, I make a point to get home a little early so I can chop some vegetables, make dinner with my husband, and enjoy the simple pleasures of good food and relaxed conversation.

As with everything, it’s all about balance.

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