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Fascinated by inefficiencies in the industrial food system, Rhinehart designed and then started living off a meal replacement he cheekily named Soylent — after the dystopian movie Soylent Green where Charlton Heston discovers that society has been living off rations made of humans. It contains an assortment of carbohydrates , amino acids, proteins and dozens of other vitamins that are deemed medically necessary to for a person to live by the Institute of Medicine, plus other modifications Rhinehart made through the testing process.

Maybe a utility like water and power. Now Rhinehart says the company will be closing in on a finalized formula by the end of next month — a version 1. Most of the customers are young men, but there have also been a few Doomsday predictors and people preparing for a societal apocalypse that have tried to order lifetime supplies of Soylent, Rhinehart said. The company has been posting updates of modifications to the Soylent formula, including changing the protein source to a vegan one derived from a rice or pea protein isolate.

What is Soylent?

A chance introduction got him in touch with the makers of MuscleMilk, Cytosport, who helped him find a factory in Modesto certified by the NSF. He also started working directly with suppliers; in early versions of Soylent, he would buy components off Amazon or Alibaba. The taste is pretty bland, kind of malty even.

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To be clear, Rhinehart is not necessarily arguing that people should consume only soylent. So instead, his goal is to create a wholly nutritious and inexpensive source of food that he uses for most of his meals.

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  • He tries to savor the few non-soylent meals he eats, and says he even appreciates them more as a result. The meal bar comes in chocolate brownie, salted caramel and citrus berry. It tastes sweet and a bit waxy, like a protein bar.

    Soylent hits its 1.0 formula, nears release

    Crowley said the company is still working to improve recipes for its product, adding that Soylent wants to develop a savory product. It's tricky to come up with non-dairy ingredients that mimic the taste of milk and sugar, Crowley said, without raising costs.


    Soylent Squared is the second new product Soylent introduced this year. In January, Soylent launched Bridge, a calorie drink designed to keep you sated between meals. Bridge is much less caloric than a regular Soylent meal-replacement drink, which has calories, and could be an easier sell for people who don't want to drink an entire meal.

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    The new products are a far cry from Soylent's original powder. When the company launched in it served a niche audience: busy Silicon Valley workers who wanted an affordable, nutritionally-optimized way to fuel their bodies. Soylent's first product was a powder that could be mixed up with water, consumed as a bland, chalky shake and, conceivably, replace every meal. Now, Soylent still sells an improved version of the powder as well as ready-to-drink shakes in vanilla, cacao, strawberry and original.

    It sells caffeinated versions of the shake in mocha, vanilla and chai , in addition to the Bridge and bar products. Soylent is a private company that doesn't share how many people buy its products. Soylent struggled on the path from niche, futuristic food to snacks that could reach a mass market. In August , Soylent launched a calorie snack bar using an ingredient sourced from algae. The ingredient made some people sick, so Soylent pulled the product a few months later. Soon after that, it paused sales of its signature powder after users complained of nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

    The following year, Soylent was banned in Canada because the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said the product didn't reach its standards as a meal replacement. Soylent is still fighting to get back into that market. There are still plenty of Soylent skeptics, and the company itself has stopped recommending that people replace food with Soylent at every meal.

    He said Soylent maintains "the same principles of sustainability, science and technology," it's always had, despite its attempts to broaden the business. Soylent is a plant-based product with a long list of ingredients. The bars include soy protein isolate, corn syrup, canola oil, whole oat flour, soluble corn fiber and more. That list might turn off consumers seeking a natural diet, who might want products with fewer ingredients that aren't genetically modified. It also puts Soylent at odds with trendy health foods that boast a short list of recognizable ingredients.

    RX Bar, for example, lists its ingredients — often nuts, fruit and egg whites — in large font on the front of its products.

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