What Is Soylent, Really?

There was a long time when the word “Soylent” was clearly a reference to Soylent Green, a 1973 dystopian thriller starring Charleton Heston, Leigh Taylor-Young, and Edward G. Robinson. In this movie, humans are fed processed wafers called Soylent Yellow, Soylent Red, and, most nutritiously and deliciously, Soylent Green. In the end, it is revealed (spoiler alert for a 50 year old movie) that Soylent Green is made of people! Ahh! 

In any event, when Soylent (the drink) came on the market a few years ago, it raised a few eyebrows amongst those familiar with the movie. Nonetheless, it has proven to be quite popular. So, what exactly is Soylent? What is Soylent made of? No, it’s not made from people. 

What is Soylent?

Let’s start with the Soylent website, which refers to the product as “the world’s most perfect food.” Seems slightly hyperbolic, perhaps, and besides, french fries still exist, so I’m not sure this is borne out. Anyway, the website continues, “We hacked food so you don’t have to think about it. Soylent has created the most nutritionally complete, most convenient, and most sustainable, food on the planet. And yes, it tastes amazing.”

To get slightly more grounded, Soylent is a meal replacement drink (also available as a bar or powder) developed in 2013. There’s a variety of Soylent flavors, including chocolate, banana, chai latte, and strawberry. (And if you’re wondering if it really tastes amazing, read our ranking of Soylent flavors.)

What does Soylent mean?

As noted above, the word “Soylent” comes from the film Soylent Green—or, to be more specific, the novel Make Room! Make Room! upon which Soylent Green is based. In the novel, there are food substitutes made from many different types of food, but of course the most famous is Soylent Green, which is people. According to Wikipedia, Soylent’s creator, Rob Rhinehart, “chose the name, with its morbid associations, to pique curiosity and deeper investigation, since the name was clearly not chosen with a traditionally ‘flashy’ marketing scheme in mind.” Of course, it also nods to Soylent’s main ingredient. 

Does Soylent have soy?

You guessed it from the name—Soylent contains soy protein isolate. So, if you’re trying to avoid soy, Soylent is probably not the way to go. 

What is Soylent made of?

According to Healthline, “Soylent drinks are a mixture of soy protein isolate, high oleic sunflower oil, isomaltulose, and essential vitamins and minerals.” 

Is Soylent vegan?

There’s not a trace of animal product anywhere to be found in Soylent—it’s completely vegan. 

Is Soylent gluten free?

According to the Soylent website, “Yes, Soylent is gluten-free in accordance with FDA compliance and regulations (20 ppm threshold).”

Is Soylent dairy free?

If you’re on a dairy free diet, or just trying to cut down on your dairy intake, you’re in luck, because Soylent is dairy free. 

Does Soylent expire?

Soylent remains shelf stable for around fourteen months, and does not need to be refrigerated. Furthermore, the Soylent site notes, “the ‘Best By’ date listed on your Soylent is not an expiration date but rather the date where we have data for best taste and texture quality. Consuming our product after the ‘Best By’ date should not pose a food safety concern.” 

All good things must come to an end, but it seems like Soylent is one of those things that can last close to forever. 

About the Author

Matt Crowley

Matt Crowley is a comedy writer living in Los Angeles. He likes maple-flavored snacks, loves every kind of cheese, and is slowly learning to accept mushrooms.

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