The makers of Soylent say their product takes the stress out of trying to eat well by simplifying the process: Just drink the stuff, get all the nutrients you need, and skip actual food entirely. Farhad Manjoo of the New York Times gave it a shot but found it to be utterly "joyless." Soylent "may offer complete nourishment," he writes, "but only at the expense of the aesthetic and emotional pleasures many of us crave in food." (And the jury is still out on those health claims, but studies are underway.) He describes Soylent as being "like gritty, thinned-down pancake batter, inoffensive and dull" and is skeptical the masses will take to it. His gastrointestinal troubles didn't help the cause, either.
"Soylent's creators have forgotten a basic ingredient found in successful tech products, not to mention in most good foods," writes Manjoo. "That ingredient is delight." For an opposing view, see Lee Hutchinson at Ars Technica, who has boxes of the stuff at home. He gets the point made by Manjoo and others, but "not every meal needs to be a festive life-affirming display of cultural pageantry where we march from kitchen to table bearing the carefully plated masterpieces of locally sourced delicacies while hidden speakers blare the 'Circle of Life' song from the Lion King." Sometimes you're busy, and that's where Soylent works. Replacing all your meals with Soylent would be overkill, he writes. "As with all things, moderation is the key." Click for his full column, or for Manjoo's full column. (Read more Soylent stories.)