Sure, Soylent Green might have been (Spoiler Alert!) "people," but a young software engineer’s similarly named passion project is anything but. Twenty-four-year-old Rob Rhinehart has developed a powdered, “just-add-water” concoction he claims provides every essential nutrient the body needs to thrive — and in healthy amounts. By breaking nutrition down to its most basic ingredients — no recognizable “food” here except for olive oil and salt — Rhinehart hopes his “Soylent” drink will spark conversations about our modern relationship with food. And it’s worth saying it up front: Rhinehart claims his drink actually tastes good, too.

What It Is

A few months ago, Rhinehart became fed up with the amount of time, money, and energy he put into food preparation everyday. So he hit the books and diagramed out what the body really needs to survive in its most basic terms. Fast forward a few weeks — and a month spent consuming nothing but trial blends — and he’d developed Soylent, the all-in-one nutrition shake that’s reminiscent of the nutritional glop Neo and his fellow humans eat after getting freed from The Matrix.

Still in the testing phase (Rhinehart will send prospective non-eaters willing to get blood work and other medical testing free batches), it remains to be seen what impact Soylent can have on the world beyond existing meal replacement supplements — or if it will ever hit store shelves. The product is also customizable, so people can tweak the formula to fit their own needs depending on activity, weight, etc. Rhinehart claims he got by on just a third of the normal calorie consumption for American adults, without all the ominous sounding additives and junk. The product’s combination of cheap and easy has the creator hoping it’ll gain traction beyond his kitchen-turned-chemistry-lab.

Is It Legit?

Not for everyone, that’s for sure. Rhinehart is quick to admit he’s not a major foodie, and there are plenty who would go insane without any variety (or solid sustenance) in their diets. And it’s unclear whether Rhinehart himself can last indefinitely without some traditional grub — both in the physiological and psychological senses.

But we have to hand it to the budding food rejectionist: As far as home experiments go, Rhinehart’s is pretty thorough, and he’s been publicly documenting his weight (he dropped around 15 pounds), bloodwork, and exercise performance while drinking Soylent. If nothing else, Soylent is fulfilling his goal of getting people talking about why food is the way it is and questioning our long-held assumptions about the relationship between nutrition and health. In an experiment where the questioning mind has to give up basically every flavor under the sun, we’re intrigued he’s taking the hit for us.

Photo: Vice

Would you go for a month only consuming Soylent? Let us know in the comments below or tweet the author @d_tao.

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