In the classic sci-fi film ‘Soylent Green,’ the namesake food product is actually made of people, a necessary solution to overpopulation and environmental degradation; the film ends with a classic Charlton Heston freak-out.
Now Soylent, a meal-replacement drink that reportedly contains all the nutrition of a daily diet but a third of the calories, has raised $1.5 million from Andreessen Horowitz, Alexis Ohanion, Lerer Ventures and others, according to TechCrunch, and morbid name aside, the product’s buzz is near-deafening.
Soylent founder Rob Rhinehart is a Y Combinator graduate who tells Vice that “eating to me is a leisure activity, like going to the movies, but I don’t want to go to the movies three times a day.”
The quest for a permanent meal-replacement has not been without its setbacks; earlier this year, Rob suffered from joint pains and found he was suffering from a sulfur deficiency. Incidentally, his “gas was odorless” during this time; he has since begun including Methylsulfonylmethane in his diet. He also claims that he usually crams in bacon when he does take the time to eat, primarily to pork up his 9.6% body fat.
Bacon-heavy diet, odorless gas, emaciated programmer physique — ol’ Rob sounds like the perfect spokesman for a health movement, huh?
On his blog, Rob displays a penchant for quantifying his physical attributes, as well as displaying strong opinions on fast food, industrialized meal production and the American diet in general. He muses that, “If people had more self-control obesity would take care of itself.” He also claims to have higher energy and concentration levels with his Soylent diet, and compares fast-food chains to Blockbuster — an overwrought, underperforming industry ripe for disruption.
Meal-replacement shakes are not new — they are, in fact, a $2.2 billion industry, according to IBISWorld. Even the most hardcore of nutrition companies have not seriously attempted to completely replace all meals, however, because they seem to realize what Rob does not: most people view eating as a joy, not a burden. In fact, those most likely to hear about Soylent — millennial consumers on sites like BuzzFeed, TechCrunch, and (why not) StartupBook — may be the least sympathetic to the product. This is the Instagram generation we’re talking about, where everyone’s a digital-foodie, everyone’s trying to learn how to cook, and everyone’s starting a fast-food blog.
Although the company’s 50 beta testers are still in the process of finding out Soylent’s full effects, Rhinehart has already raised over $1,000,000 on Kickstarter, and expects to ship the first batch in December. A week’s supply of Soylent powder will cost $65.
Cue Charlton Heston scream…