Soylent! It's Not Just for Breakfast Anymore

Growing up in the '60s, I looked forward to a future in which I'd get to eat like The Jetsons, whose cuisine consisted of little tablets that magically turned into full-sized meals.

Which is to say that I've never been much of a foodie. Call me a "fuelie." Food, for me, isn't about enjoyment. It's about sustenance.

I don't get a kick out of cutting edge cuisine, fabulous new restaurants or creative food combinations. Sitting around a table for hours, ordering innovative entrees, tasting each other's food and yakking endlessly about what we're eating as we gobble it down? I have more fun vacuuming the living room.

Check out that amazing new bistro?

No thanks. I'd rather stay home and open a can of Campbell's.

One reason that Mark, my sweetie, and I get along is that we're both perfectly happy always eating at the same damn Chinese restaurant or, even better, staying at home to enjoy vegan chili, made from the recipe Mark has used for decades.

When I'm on my own for dinner, I'll either pick up something nutritious from the neighborhood gourmet take-out place or fix myself a salad. Or, on rare occasion, indulge my sweet tooth with a serving of Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies (a serving being, of course, an entire sleeve.)

"Don't you ever feel like cooking?" people ask.

Not I. There isn't a meal in the world I enjoy eating enough to want to actually cook it. I use my stove, not to cook, but to store the pots and pans that I'm not using.

Which is all of them.

So when I first heard about Soylent, I was thrilled.

Soylent, the creation of software engineer Rob Rhinehart, is a new food substitute that can allegedly supply 100% of your daily nutritional needs, costs next to nothing and takes no time to prepare. Using himself as a guinea pig, Rhinehart was able to thrive on nothing but home-made Soylent for 3 months. After which he crowd-funded it to the tune of $1.5 million. And then the venture capitalists moved in.

The original recipe is being tested and refined, and the first orders (including mine) should ship in early 2014.

So what does it taste like?

"I'm not trying to make something delicious," Rhinehart said in a recent Gawker interview. "There are already a lot of delicious things. It's all about efficiency. It's all about cost and convenience."

Which is to say that it tastes like Glop. Or, according to one Gawker staffer, like "the homemade nontoxic Play-Doh you made, and sometimes ate, as a kid. Slightly sweet and earthy with a strong yeasty aftertaste."

"Perfectly balanced nutritious sludge that you can live on instead of preparing delicious meals?" I thought. "I'm in!"

When he named his creation Soylent (after a foodstuff central to a movie whose tagline every Boomer knows by heart) Rhinehart was being ironic, although a few of the folks who posted responses on his website claimed to feel betrayed. "If it's called Soylent," one huffed. "It had better be made out of people!"

Let's hope he was kidding.

I can't wait to mix up my first batch. I'm excited at the prospect of thriving on a nutritionally perfect, hassle-free diet.

It might even catch on! Maybe 2014 will be The Year of Glop.

I'm dreaming of a Soylent-centered Christmas for 2014. No hours of preparation. No groaning board. No overeating, then sinking onto the sofa in a ham or turkey-fueled stupor. And no mountains of dirty dishes to wash.

Instead, friends and family sit around the table enjoying witty, literate conversation as we cheerfully sip our Soylent. (Perhaps, for the holiday, we'll spike it with a little vodka.) We'll donate the money we've saved to charities that fight world hunger.

Then, on to coffee and pie! Having satisfied 100% of our nutritional needs, we can indulge in a bit of food-as-pure pleasure.

Okay, so that probably won't happen. But aren't the possibilities Soylent offers, at the very least, food for thought?

As for me, it may have taken five decades, but I'm finally going to be able to eat like Jane Jetson!

Now, where's my jetpack?

(This essay first appeared on Womens Voices For Change)