Soylent is a meal replacement drink that has proved very popular in the US since its launch in 2014. The drinks are are vegan, made largely from soy protein and have 400 calories per bottle. In advance of their product launch in the UK, I was given exclusive access to trial the product.
After the launch in Canada, Soylent sales were suspended, on the claim that Soylent failed to reach the minimum requirements of meal replacement drinks and one of Soylent’s food bars was recalled in 2016 after claims it made some customers ill. Two years on, the launch in the UK is tested, safe and has been rebranded. The product is no longer to be relied upon, but to fill ‘food voids’ where we are too busy to eat a full meal.
I’ll have to admit, I was dubious, as I don’t really believe in meal replacements or ‘drinking’ your calories, but Soylent seemed to be different to most of these products; they don’t try to pretend that a Soylent drink is better than a well balanced meal, or encourage you to live off them alone. Instead, Soylent is intended for busy lifestyles, and as I am guilty of skipping breakfast when I’m late for a lecture, I thought it couldn’t do any harm to give them a try.
I was given three flavours: Original, Cacao, and the caffeinated Cafe Mocha. On my first day I passed on my morning coffee and headed to the gym with a Cafe Mocha. Surprisingly, I felt awake and full of energy, without the sluggish feeling I sometimes get when exercising too soon after eating breakfast. Even better, I felt full until lunchtime, even after a heavy workout.
The cacao and cafe mocha flavours taste like your regular milkshake or mocha but with a slightly earthier, maltier kick which is the main taste of the original.
They won’t blow you away, but Soylent is drinkable, and works well in other things too. I tried blending the cacao flavour with banana and peanut butter and ended up with a great tasting smoothie. Doing this takes the ‘in a rush’ purpose out of Soylent, but also makes each bottle go further, which, at £3.33 each, isn’t a bad thing. And with each bottle containing 20g of protein, and 20% of your daily nutrition, you know that you’re getting what you need.
With each bottle having a year-long shelf life, Soylent are committed to reducing food and plastic waste and contributing to helping the cause for hunger. The plant-based protein means that Soylent produces less CO2 and uses less water than most meat-based products.
Beckie Lait, a student at the University of Manchester, and one half of @theveganpair on Instagram, is a frequent user of one of Soylent’s UK competitor meal replacement drinks. She says that the drinks work as a cheap meal and she will be using them for breakfast and lunch this year at university as they are so quick and easy to make, as well as having all the nutrients she needs. The plant-based nature of these drinks is also an advantage, as she says “it shows that they have really researched the benefits of a plant-based diet”.
I have always been skeptical about these sort of drinks, but my trial with Soylent has changed my mind. Not all meal replacement drinks have to be about gaining or losing weight. Soylent truly is a better alternative if you don’t have the time for a proper meal. This isn’t to say that all your calories should be liquid, but I have definitely enjoyed being able to grab a bottle on the go, knowing that I’m getting the right nutrients for my body and staying full for a long time.
The three flavours (Original, Cacao and Cafe Mocha) will be available on Amazon UK at £39.99 for a case of 12 bottles.