In our fast-paced world, would you want to use the time and energy saved in food preparation, eating, and cleanup for other purposes? Would giving up food as you know it feel freeing?
The people at Soylent hope you’ll say “yes” to all of these questions since they have a product they say is designed to provide affordable nutrition with maximum efficiency. They developed a powder and oil that you mix together to make a shake as a food replacement, and when you consumed three times a day, you’re done. No need to spend time or energy on actual eating. Just go about your life doing whatever else you want.
Many people don’t like to cook or find it too time-consuming. Even more find the plethora of conflicting nutrition information confusing. From that perspective, I won’t argue that this is an easier option. But is easier better?
What their website and video don’t address is what is lost when you don’t actually eat food. After all, for most people eating is an important source of pleasure. Would you be willing to give up the taste and textures of your favorite foods, two aspects that Soylent admits they don’t focus on? Read this touching account of one person’s experience of not being able to eat due to cancer surgery.
Eating is often a social experience. Sharing a meal with others forms connections, fosters better relationships, and can be deeply satisfying. Feeding others is a form of hospitality and an expression of gratitude or empathy. I’m trying, and failing, to imagine people, perhaps politicians, sitting down to “break bread” together, but instead of a nice meal, they sip shakes.
The experience of preparing and eating food can also be profoundly spiritual. When we are truly mindful of where our food comes from and of those who grew, raised it, or prepared it, we recognize how connected we all are. It helps us remember that we are all part of this same physical world with the same basic needs.
Further, while our general nutritional needs may be similar, our individual requirements vary greatly with age, activity, illness, and numerous other factors. How can a one-size-fits-all approach work when we are each so unique?
As much as I appreciate the goal of a sustainable, affordable way to feed all of us, nourishment is about far more than nutrients. It’s also about what satisfies us.
I personally prefer to continue a mindful approach, to be aware enough of my body to give it what it needs, and practice gratitude for all the ways in which food feeds me—body, mind, and spirit.
How about you? Would you miss food?