'Knowledge isn't restrained by the limits of Malthus. Information doesn't need topsoil to grow in, only freedom. Given eager minds and experimentation, it feeds itself like a chain reaction.' -David Brin, Earth

Soylent and It's Side Effects

by Ethan Glover, Thu, Oct 23, 2014 - (Edited) Fri, Nov 06, 2015

My one-week supply of Soylent has finally run out, and it has certainly achieved its goal. One can live on this very cheap food alternative. The taste is fine, and it doesn’t get boring. I did however experience a few side effects by the end of my week. With that, I’d like to preface this by reminding readers that I only consumed one-week worth of Soylent one time. My experiences are my own, and I certainly have no real scientific explanation for anything good or bad.

The most common side effect I hear people talking about with Soylent is that it causes flatulence. This didn’t happen to me, and unfortunately, I fear that internet trolls have taken a few early experiences and turned it into a joke. I’ve seen fake reviews of Soylent from people who have never tasted it from people trying to make funny fart jokes. The recipe I had, 1.0, was fixed to get rid of the rare flatulence problems people were experiencing, and I haven’t heard any more legitimate complaints on this subject since. I mention this because it’s important that opinion of the drink (or anything else for that matter) is not built upon sarcastic, exaggerated and outdated internet humor.

Instead, what I did experience by the end of the week is a loss of energy and a feeling of sluggishness. The kind of sluggishness you feel when you get a cold. It wasn’t bad, but certainly noticeable. This could, of course, be due to a variety of reasons. Maybe it’s because of my lengthy study sessions for an algorithms exam, maybe it was because of a poor test score in an architecture class with the worst professor I’ve ever seen. Stress, in a word, may be the culprit here. It’s hard to tell without testing Soylent over a longer period, which I may or may not do.

More interestingly, on my last day of drinking Soylent I decided to eat a little bit of normal food for lunch. I had a transitioning period into the drink, I thought I might as well ease back into food. After eating a simple hamburger, I started to feel sick. In fact at one point during the night I felt like I was going to throw up. To add on top of that, I’ve developed a long term case of the hiccups. My last day of Soylent was yesterday, they started during the night. Today they’re still going strong more than half way through the day.

These "side-effects" are of course common things that just happen sometimes. I only mention them because everything seemed to happen all at once, and my last couple of days have been pretty miserable. (And no, I didn't just eat a rotten hamburger.) I can’t blame anything directly on Soylent, but I have to say that my first week with it is kind of a big turn off. I had no energy by the end of the week (not normal for me), I felt sick after trying to transition back into food, and that also seems to have caused an annoying case of hiccups. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to worry about two days worth (or more), and hopefully, they’ll go away soon.

If anyone else has had negative effects from Soylent (or seems to have) let me know. Or even if you’ve had positive side effects. I’m not condemning the drink so quickly, and nor should you from this. I’d only like to add my self-reported experiences to the world wide internets for consideration. And of course, if I ever decide to give it a second go, I’ll write about anything important here.

UPDATE (Oct. 11, 2015): - Since writing this article I gave Soylent a second go. I've been drinking it for 9-months now with the occasional eating out. Mostly for special/social reasons. I'm drinking v1.5 and haven't tried 2.0 yet. There are no long term side effects, and I feel amazing. Soylent, now at $2/meal is a great convenience and alternative to food.