Ok folks, I’ve been seeing ads and news stories all over the interwebs for this product Soylent 2.0, and I’m feeling the need to weigh in and set a few things straight about this product. Set up all sleek in a white recyclable plastic bottle, this thing promises to be the ultimate nutrition for Silicon Valley types who don’t want to be inconvenienced with having to stop working to eat real food.
The article that really rubbed me the wrong way was this Forbes piece about the product. It almost seems like whoever wrote this was paid by Soylent to do so, comparing the product to Ensure and McDonald’s salads. These comparisons bother me because Soylent is touting itself as a “health food,” and I would hope that even the least health-savvy among us know that McDonald’s is not a source for health food — even the salads. Ensure is also not the benchmark for meal replacement protein drinks. It’s far from the top of the line, far from anything remotely cutting edge. There are SO many protein powders and pre-mixed protein drinks on the market, it just baffles me that these were the products the Forbes writer chose to compare against Soylent.
But I digress, let’s talk about Soylent.
Admittedly the marketing is brilliant. The website is clean, the product and its packaging are white (connoting purity, cleanliness, and simplicity), and there’s a claim right on the front page of the website that the company has chosen its ingredients and practices with the environment in mind. What could be better? (LOTS of things)
First and foremost, there’s absolutely nothing special about Soylent. Health-wise and environmentally, the marketing of Soylent is misleading its consumers. Soy protein isolate, the primary ingredient, is neither a new thing, nor anything to write home about. In fact, it’s quite possibly the least desirable, lowest quality source of protein you can buy today. It’s processed using extremely high heat to the point of denaturing the protein, stripped of its fiber content, and acid washed in aluminum tanks, rendering the final product high in aluminum.
Soy is not only not a health food, it’s a monocrop of agribusiness that has taken over a massive chunk of the American farming landscape, almost entirely in the form of GMO crops. Argue all you want about whether or not GMO crops are safe for human consumption — I’m not here to debate that issue. But I will argue all day that massive expanses of monocrops sweeping the American farming landscape — especially of the GMO variety, which wrecks the soil and the ecosystem of bugs, worms, good bacteria, etc. that live in it — is in no way good for the environment. Soy protein isolate, and therefor Soylent, is not an eco-friendly product.
The Dangers of Soy
Soylent is marketed as a solution to the tecchy’s time crunch. It’s the food of the future — liquid nutrition high in protein and low in sugar — that you can eat on the go. Great, except that massive amounts of soy protein isolate is TERRIBLE for you. Soy protein isolate is actually the byproduct of other mass-produced soy products and is extremely difficult to digest. Far more importantly, it’s phytoestrogenic and can disrupt the balance of sex hormones in both men and women.
Soy contains endocrine-disrupting isoflavones, genistein, and diadzen, all of which have been implicated in infertility, increased cancer, and infantile leukemia. “In 1991, Japanese researchers reported that consumption of as little as 30 grams or two tablespoons of soybeans per day for only one month resulted in a significant increase in thyroid-stimulating hormone. Diffuse goiter and hypothyroidism appeared in some of the subjects and many complained of constipation, fatigue, and lethargy, even though their intake of iodine was adequate.” (secondary source, primaries listed at the bottom of this article)
Do we really need people who are already sitting in front of a computer all day (a major risk factor in and of itself) to now also be at higher risk of thyroid problems, reproductive dysfunction, and cancer?
If you really want to be convinced of the dangers of soy (and the level to which processed soy protein has inundated our food supply, including infant formula, read the whole article I’ve sited above, written by Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig. It really drives it home.
Awesome, Healthy Alternatives to Soylent
You didn’t think I’d finish this post on such a negative note did you? Don’t worry, I won’t leave you empty-handed if you really do want to drink your lunch to save some time. I’ve compiled a list (yes through my affiliate Amazon link) of products that are excellent alternatives to Soylent. Not only are they soy-free, they also have excellent phytonutrient profiles. Some even contain probiotics, prebiotics, and green foods, all great for gut health. And if you don’t want to take the time to blend them up, you can use this fancy little blender bottle and throw in some almond milk to shake it on the go.
Soy-Free Vegan Protein Shakes that are ACTUALLY Good for You:
Non-Vegan Options (whey):
- Naked Whey (from Grassfed Cows)
- Jarrow Whey Protein Concentrate
- Now Foods Whey Protein Concentrate
Also, this is hilarious, and a great pre-mixed protein drink alternative:
FTC DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive monetary compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. All opinions are my own.
- Matrone, G. et al., “Effect of Genistin on Growth and Development of the Male Mouse”, Journal of Nutrition (1956) 235-240.
- Ishizuki, Y. et al., “The effects on the thyroid gland of soybeans administered experimentally in healthy subjects”, Nippon Naibunpi Gakkai Zasshi (1991) 767:622-629.
- Divi, R.L. et al., “Anti-thyroid isoflavones from the soybean”, Biochemical Pharmacology (1997) 54:1087-1096.
- Cassidy, A. et al., “Biological Effects of a Diet of Soy Protein Rich in Isoflavones on the Menstrual Cycle of Premenopausal Women”, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1994) 60:333-340.
- Murphy, P.A., “Phytoestrogen Content of Processed Soybean Foods”, Food Technology, January 1982, pp. 60-64.