Last Friday I received my first batch of Joylent, which is like Soylent, only the J stands for “Europe.” I’d ordered the “variety pack” with 15 meals, which means 5 bags with differently flavored powder: vanilla, banana, chocolate, and strawberry.
I was one of the people who fell in love with Soylent when it was still a Kickstarter and you couldn’t order it yet, not even in America. I can enjoy food in a social setting, and there are some things that taste pleasant, but generally, I’m not a big fan of food. Some people find cooking relaxing — I find it emotionally draining. There are too many things going on, you have to be careful not to touch anything or you’ll burn your fingers, and the food will get horribly burned, too, if you stop stirring for half a second. Hence I just end up eating toast with cheese or Nutella or something, 99% of the time, and then I keep biting the inside of my mouth instead of the food, so everything tastes like blood anyway.
If drinking three glasses of gray liquid every day could make all that go away and the only price was that it didn’t taste as exciting? That would be fantastic.
So I opened the first package, vanilla, and took in the kind of un-vanilla-y smell of the enormously large quantity of powder. If you’re used to two spoons of protein powder in ≈450ml of milk or water, this will be a bit of a shock. And it doesn’t just look like a lot of powder, you can tell while you’re drinking it, too, because there’s not enough water to dissolve it all. I’m not going to lie: the first mouthful of that stuff was really disgusting. But I didn’t let that stop me.
While I continued to drink and did my best not to throw up all over the kitchen table, my hunger did start to fade, though I did eat other stuff as well because let’s be serious, 2100 calories for a full day? I haven’t tracked this with great accuracy, but I’m pretty sure I can eat at least 2500 calories and still lose weight.
Trying the next flavor, banana, on the second day, I realized my initial disgust may have been due, in part, to the fact that vanilla flavored Joylent tastes infinitely worse than any of the other kinds. Banana is better, chocolate is better still, and strawberry is about the same as chocolate. Of course it still feels like mud, but I got used to that surprisingly quickly.
My digestion wasn’t super excited about this whole experiment, but as long as I ate some solid food at some point during the day (which I was doing anyway, lest I starve) it seemed to work out fine. Also, it’s not like my digestion is super excited about anything. Maybe I should see a doctor about that. Okay, before everyone starts shouting “TMI, TMI!”, let’s move on to something more fun.
Things you can do to put more joy in Joylent
- Mix it with orange juice. Seriously, this is amazing. (I tried this with vanilla or banana, if I remember correctly.)
- Put the protein powder you still have lying around in so you get more protein, better taste, and more calories at the same time. This way, after the gym, instead of drinking a protein shake and eating dinner, you can combine both into one!
- Put the Joylent in the fridge for an hour before you drink it. I feel like this helps dissolve the powder better, or masks the powdery texture more, but this may be a placebo. In any case, it’s much more pleasant to drink it cold than lukewarm.
- Mix in some flavored soy milk. I like to put chocolate soy milk into chocolate Joylent.
These were just the things I tried in the short time where this experiment went on. I’m sure there are a million other things you can do.
So, am I going to buy more?
At first it looked very much like I wasn’t even going to finish the 5 bags I had bought, but as soon as I went back to normal food, I started craving Joylent because the whole process just sucks so much less. First of all it’s faster to make and consume, and second of all, you know how after lunch you just want to sleep for an hour? That doesn’t seem to happen with Joylent.1 The hunger just goes away quietly after some time, while I’m still able to stay awake and think.
In conclusion, nutrition is not a solved problem, but at least I don’t have to use the toaster so often anymore.
Update: After further experimentation, I have to report that, actually, it does. ↩