tl;dr: My diet is currently Soylent + free food and I love it.
I’ve adopted a new diet recently and it’s awesome so I wanted to share. It’s quite simple: I eat Soylent and free food. Only.
Why? I spend a total of 2 minutes of prep and ~$10 a day on personal food. (see social events below for some exceptions). The Soylent is good for me and the free food breaks the monotony. It’s great.
While strictly not true Freeganism, I think Soylent Freegans should unite and proliferate, especially in the startup and/or starving artist communities.
Soylent? Freegan? But Why?
Food can be a surprisingly pervasive barrier to staying focused and getting stuff done. It takes a long time to prepare, can make me feel crappy if I eat the wrong kinds, costs money, and is all in all very distracting from the relationships and personal goals I have. So Soylent helps me get reliable, inexpensive, quick nutrition. Free food adds variety, takes no preparation on my part, and usually comes during social events. Hence Soylent Freegan.
If I were rich I suppose I could use Doordash, Postmates, or other delivery services to bring great food to me any time I wanted it. But there’s still a lot of distraction and cognitive overhead in choosing food and I think I might still choose this diet if I were a billionaire. Like wearing the same thing every day, it’s a strategy for keeping focused on what matters.
So that’s the basics of the diet. Here are a few FAQs.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Does it Taste?
A large portion of Soylent is derived from rice.* It’s got a smooth, creamy, mildly savory taste. I like it, especially for breakfast. In fact I think I’d probably choose Soyent as my breakfast most mornings, regardless of this silly diet.
*Update: This was written about Solylent 1.3. Soylent 1.4 replaced much of the rice content with oats, making it creamier and more like a smooth oatmeal milkshake. It’s different and I think I like it better. It’s a tad sweeter because oats are sweeter.
How do you Travel?
Soylent is amazing for travel. In Airplane mode, Soylent becomes a cheap and reliable source of a full day’s nutrition in a sea of overpriced airport junkfood. It’s simple to bring one bag of soylent for each day of your trip. Just add water and you’re set for food.
The biggest annoyance is that Soylent tastes best cold and it can be hard to make things cold while travelling. Finding a free refills soda fountain is my favorite way to get a cup of ice to pour Soylent over and works well in airports as well as out and about in the city.
Update: I’ve found that double-walled stainless steel Thermos water bottles are best for non-travel. People are used to others drinking from water bottles and the the vacuum insulation keeps cold Soylent cold for 12 hours or more. I use this one to drink out of and a larger one to keep extra soylent around if needed.
Where do you get free food? (hint: not dumpsters)
Events are my primary source of free food! Most of the free food isn’t all that great, but sometimes it’s amazing. It’s a grab bag that makes life interesting. Plus it’s good inventive to get my introverted butt out and meet cool people.
For the purposes of the diet, paid events that include food such as conferences and seminars count as free. But I definitely don’t go to frivolous events for the food- that would be counterproductive and conference food usually isn’t the best anyways. Sometimes I bring Soylent along anyways and have it instead.
How do you handle Social Events or meals?
For me it’s important that my diet be an enabler of my larger goals, not a barrier. That’s the whole purpose of the diet! Eating non-free food at social events, shared meals, and business meetings is an important ritual. Plus I like it, aside from the spending money part. Hardcore Soylent Freegans may choose to opt out of these. I don’t. I think it’s important that my dietary choices not get in the way of social or business customs. I also love home cooked meals with my lovely wife when we’re both home for dinner, which is rare these days because of our schedules.
How’s your Digestion?
OK let’s talk about it. Many are concerned for my digestion when I tell them I’m rocking Soylent. It’s cool if you’re concerned too. I take it as a sign of love and care for me.
Short version: it’s fine. But I will say that I’ve also been taking probiotics to make sure that I don’t end up with a gastric monoculture. Eating the same of anything for days on end then drastically changing your diet leads to gastric distress because your stomach bacteria isn’t diverse enough to deal with the new food type. With this setup I can move from Soylent to Indian food to fresh fruits and veggies with no problems.
Probiotics are good to take even if you’re not a Soylent Freegan. I recommend Naturenetics (shown above) but you can do whatever one you like (or use yoghurt, kefir, etc).
What’s the best free food you’ve ever had?
Michael Dearing’s Harrison Metal class at the Rosewood Hotel, hands down. Close second: collectively, the Thrusday Night Dinners at Imagine K12. Theme: getting investors to pay for food is obviously a winning strategy.