I decided to give Soylent, the Silicon Valley sweetheart of meal replacement drinks, a try over the last few weeks. The first iteration of the product, which involved mixing your own powder, didn't have much appeal to me. But the new bottled version, called 2.0 in a very software oriented fashion, worked much better with the effort level I was interested in putting in if I was going to give it a real shot.

I've never wanted to completely replace all food with liquid sustenance, however, certain meals do frustrate me. I've never been much of a breakfast eater, and sometimes lunch is just a road block in the middle of a busy day. These sorts of moments are what I want something like Soylent for.

The Soylent experience

You can order boxes of these bottles online in batches of 12. They offer both subscription and one-time purchases. I decided to try a subscription, which provides about a 40c savings per bottle (15% off) and brings the cost to under $2.50 per bottle. I was impressed with how fast they delivered; only 2 business days to my home in Toronto. Each bottle can be shelved for up to a year before expiry.

The drink itself, tastes a lot like a thick soy milk. I don't find it too bad at all, though I much prefer it cold. I drink it over the course of a couple minutes. I don't enjoy it more than eating food, but it satisfies me and I get on with my day. I still enjoy at least one real meal, often two but at least a snack.

Speaking of snacks, it's been helping me keep away from those too. Before using Soylent I was much more inclined to skip a meal like breakfast, end up hungrier by lunch and indulge excessively in the remaining 2 meals of the day. The balance of not skipping meals provides a net benefit to my lifestyle in itself.

Why not just eat/drink 'X' instead?

I understand that Soylent is not the first drink to replace a meal and foods like fruit, power bars etc... can provide solutions too. I'm not sure that any of these are a perfect solutions on their own either though. Fruits and other on-the-go edibles don't always fill me up enough, or provide a full balance of nutrients. The same is true of some meal replacement drinks. So far I've found Soylent to be pretty good at filling me up for a few hours as well as providing a good balance of nutrients, protein and calories (I'm not trying to go on a diet here).

Verdict: Pretty Good

I'm not a total convert yet. I'd like to do more research on other options out there too and possibly try some variants/knock offs, but I certainly see value in using them for some meals. If you're someone who is skipping meals, I definitely think a meal replacement drink can provide a benefit.

Soylent seems to fill me up better than other drinks I've tried. The volume of liquid (414 mL) is greater than other drinks I've had and provides a better fullness. I do sometimes still feel hungry a couple of hours after drinking one but I've never found it to be the same nagging hunger I get after other options like fruit or other drinks.

I still love food, and only appreciate the real meals I have more. I just have a very utilitarian approach to some of those less important meals of life. The ones where you aren't out dining with friends, visiting family, or exploring new and interesting flavours for the sake of it. I don't know if I'll use this, or something else like it, forever, but I definitely think it's a positive change so far over skipping meals.