So Many Meal Replacements Drinks - But They All Contain Soy?

I’ve just done a Google search for “alternatives to soylent”, and there are now quite a lot of them. All of them seem to contain soy though. What is this obsession with everyone using soy? It’s such a controversial ingredient. Some sources say it is really nutritious and very beneficial to your health, while others say it is a hormone disrupting poison.

The thing is, you don’t tend to hear the same controversy about other ingredients such as oats or rice. So to me it seems a bit foolish for so many of these meal replacement companies to be jumping straight for using soy.

It must be that they are all just copying Soylent. Are they all just assuming that soy’s fine because Soylent contains it? What if it turns out to be huge mistake? I’m not saying it is, but the jury’s still out on soy, right?

You’re right @Marcus , I think we should still be concerned about the health risks of consuming large amounts of soy, but also the environmental damage.

I am also concerned about the health risks of consuming large amounts of rice. There is controversy about it because rice takes up a lot more arsenic than other grains and may also be grown in areas with high levels of heavy metals.

I’m still waiting to hear some reassurance as to the safety of consuming Huel daily for long periods taking these risks into consideration. Do you know what safety tests have been done on Huel? I may have overlooked this information in the forum/website.

The only soy contained in Soylent 1.0 - 1.5 (powder) is soy lecithin (an emulsifier, found in almost all chocolate bars). Because the way soy lecithin is processed, it shouldn’t be a problem for people with soy allergies, even though it is technically soy oil.

Soylent 2.0 (liquid) also does not use whole soy. They switched from brown rice protein to soy protein isolate. Soy protein has a level of purity from inorganic compounds not possible with brown rice protein, and unlike whey protein, soy protein is vegan. The isoflavone levels are much lower than what they would be in soy flour or tofu. There are some levels, but well below any that have shown to have an effect.

There was somewhat specious research in the past on what impact soy can have on testosterone levels and those have been widely debunked.

This is one of the things I find refreshing about Huel, Soylent, and other powdered foods; that they take a scientific and medical approach to food, and ignore the static.

@Phil0s0raptor I had heard something about arsenic as well, but had forgotten about it until you mentioned it recently. I don’t know anything about that, or the safety tests done on Huel, sorry.

@Ric Thank you for the information. With the lecithin thing, is that also true with the sunflower lecithin in Huel? I have a bit of a concern that I may have a sensitivity to sunflower seed.

@Ric @Marcus

This may be why soylent switched to soy, and makes me wonder if Huel is safe:

Interesting read, thanks.

It’s worth keeping in mind though that Huel also has pea protein, plus there will be some protein from the oats and the flax seeds. So its not entirely reliant on rice for the protein.

You are right, it’s good that there is a variety of protein. I think it would add up over time though if you drink it every day :confused:
I read reviews of people who were taking Raw Meal and started getting ill, more so if they were taking regularly.
It would be very unfortunate if you got all your vitamins and minerals but ended up with a neurological disorder anyway!

Do you know of any reports of people who eat a lot of rice in other forms who developed such disorders?

I haven’t looked into this until now, as I don’t eat much rice normally. It would be useful to look into but also very important for companies like Huel to do long term studies, as they sell this as something for daily consumption. It is their responsibility to provide something safe, rather than the consumers responsibility to request it

Also, results could well differ depending on the target audience. For example I think I read that people in Asia who grow up eating a lot of soy products are less affected by negative effects than people in Western countries, as well as reaping health benefits from it. This could also be to do with the way it is processed and consumed.

There are a lot of variables and I fear not enough research into how this kind of product would affect people in the long run

You are right, it is Huel’s responsibility to do the research. To be fair though, this is a new product, and they are going to be paying someone to live on 100% Huel for a year. It’s fair to say that the early adopters of any new product are effectively test subjects. Hasn’t this also been the case with Soylent?

I think this is a bit of a grey area, because it’s new and information is still being gathered. They are trying to create a healthy meal replacement, but it is still in development, so perhaps research is still yet to be done in some areas.

If you compare that to the top fast food restaurants and fizzy drink makers (I’m not going to name names, but you know exactly who I’m referring to), who knowingly make and sell products that they know full well will ruin peoples health. You only have to look at that film several years ago, where that guy lived on nothing but fast food for a month. ONE MONTH, and he was ruined. And it’s still perfectly legal for that muck to be sold to the public…

It will be interesting to see how the year long study will go! In the meantime I really want to try it but am still unsure, so maybe I will just drink it part time if I do buy it. With fast food we know that eating it in excess is terrible for you because people have been eating it for so long, the stats are there. And if anyone was marketing Mcdonalds burgers as something that you could eat every day and get all the nutrition you need, that would be immoral and illegal. Should be the same for any food, supplement or medicine.

I would have thought that anything sold as a chemical combo, whether supplement or food product, would have to go through tests for human consumption so I am a little surprised that soylent products were not required to do long term tests. Apparently Soylent doesn’t even have to be tested legally or meet food standards in the US but I am not sure if it’s the same in the UK.

Sure. But that guy also consumed 5,000 calories a day, and stopped exercising. Everyone knows that if a person overeats fast food and stops exercising, his health will deteriorate.

[Agreed that fast food is not healthy (although I don’t go as far as you in wanting it made illegal to be sold to the public). But I’m not sure Super Size Me is the objective evidence that should be cited.]

Oh my God, please no. Huel is only powdered food, not a medicine.
Do you really think that every dish in a restaurant, every food in a store has been tested? No, and they don’t have too. Being carefuly made from legally bought european ingredients is enough.
Don’t become paranoid (and yes, I know, only paranoids will survive!).

1 Like

Most other foods do not claim to be a replacement for all other food! If they did, I should think they also have a legal obligation to back up their claims that it would be a healthy alternative to a varied diet. If you can’t prove it, don’t claim it

They claim to give us all nutrients we need. Isn’t the “Nutritional facts” enough, as a proof?

lol nothing is a fact until it is proven, preferably by an independent body to national food regulation standards. Even the nutritional info on the website is not correct e.g. claiming it has vitamin D3 when it is D2 (massive difference in effectiveness for health). What else is conveniently omitted or misrepresented i wonder?

Again, it’s a only a powdered food, not a medicin.
Same in the Netherland, for Joylent: the government there said it doesn’t need to control this powder.

Well that is very convenient for anyone that wants to sell such a product and make any claims they want

@Phil0s0raptor @Ric The issue with junk food is that it is addictive. I think the rising obesity epidemic (along with its many associated health problems such as diabetes, stroke, etc.) is evidence of that. For many people, it’s simply not enough to just inform them that having too much of something is bad for them. Junk food is as addictive as drugs. This is why the UK had to take the step of introducing an indoor smoking ban, and various other ways to try to help people quit. Simply saying to someone addicted to nicotine “smoking is bad for you” doesn’t cause most smokers to stop smoking. I think the same thing is true of junk food.

My point is, although junk food manufacturers are not saying to people “You can eat loads of this stuff and be fine”, the addictive nature of the junk food causes people to eat more of it than they should. Even if it was sold with big red lettering on the packaging saying “THIS IS REALLY BAD FOR YOU”, I suspect many people would still eat it anyway.

Regarding Huel, the individual ingredients are, at the moment, generally regarded as safe (but as you say, there is a question mark over the rice). The issue is what it does to the human body long-term if someone consumes nothing but Huel. You can only find out that by trying it. If your argument is that Julian should have been on 100% Huel himself for a year before even releasing it to the public, I expect he would have missed the business opportunity if he’d done that. While he was busy testing it on himself, someone else probably would have come along and filled that gap in the market.

But it is a tricky area. Although meal replacements as such are not totally new, this concept of something completely replacing food, that’s a newer development. I think Huel are doing the right thing by paying someone to live off it for a year.

1 Like

Most companies will only adhere to laws that they are required to, so if there is no law to test meal replacements over long term consumption then of course companies will take advantage of this. Back when there had not been long term studies on effects of smoking, people were marketing cigarettes as totally safe and healthy. We now see this as irresponsible marketing but somehow ignorance is still a good enough excuse to sell potentially harmful products.

At the end of the day, nobody knows for sure so I guess it’s down to the consumers to use their judgement and do proper research before just taking the word of people who are trying to make a profit. I’m not saying owners of Huel have bad intentions but as @Marcus said, it’s quicker to take advantage of opportunity to make money than it is to do studies into health effects. What they could do at the moment, if they were being responsible, is admit that they don’t know what the long term effects are and write a disclaimer.

Personally, after spending time looking into meal replacements I have decided to do only part time meal replacements using a product that contains wholefoods rather than synthesised powders. I think it works out to roughly the same cost per serving (if my maths is correct!). There are pros and cons to every meal replacement product though, so I am still really interested in seeing how effective and healthy Huel is after the study.