Silicon Valley entrepreneur Rob Rhinehart has lived primarily off of bioengineered liquid food substitute Soylent for a year and a half. (And he's still alive. Phew!) Emboldened by his experience--or perhaps giddy from the deprivation--he's bringing his amped-up protein shake to the masses by way of late night television.
Rhinehart appeared on a recent episode of The Colbert Report to give host Stephen Colbert a taste of the nutrient-rich concotion he created to supplant what he sees as human's irrational need for food. Colbert was, unsurprisingly, skeptical. "What was the inspiration for this?" he asked Rhinehart. "Did you see someone in a coma with a feeding tube, and you thought, 'I'll have what he's having?'"
Not quite. According to Rhinehart, Soylent came about as a way to make achieving a balanced diet cheaper and more efficient. Why waste time going to the grocery store and planning and cooking meals when you could get all the nutrients you need in a single beverage? Food for thought, surely.
"No one asks me to make my own pharmaceuticals or car, so why would you ask me to make my own food?" Rhinehart asked in a 2013 interview with Inc. "I'm bad at it. I have other skills, but that just seems strange that that would be expected of me."
Looks like he's not the only one who finds cooking oppressive. Customers are already lining up to make the switch to the all-liquid diet. In May, Rosa Labs, the company that manufactures Soylent, had $10,000 in new orders coming in every day.
Rhinehart, who receives up to 90 percent of his daily nutrients from Soylent, proclaims the drink as a proven, healthy substitute for actual meals. He can point to blood tests that have shown no nutrient deficiencies. So what is it really? No, it's not just liquified solid food. There's actually no traditional food base like meat or vegetables at all. Instead, the ingredients include protein, calcium, fiber, vitamins--everything nutritionists recommend for a balanced diet.
As for whether or not it actually tastes any good--well, Rhinehart described the "minimal flavor" as "broad" and "nonspecific," so take that as you will. After his taste test, Colbert proclaimed that Soylent was delicious--but that may have had something to do with the chocolate syrup he mixed in to his beverage.
For the rest of the interview, check out the video below.