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How To Live Out of a Van Pt II: Giving up Normal Food

Remember Austin Laurent, who quit his job and started living out of a van to rock climb? Here’s Part II: How to Give Up Normal Food.


Austin has been shirking traditional meals for Soylent, a nutritional drink that is meant to fulfill all of your dietary needs. It costs about $300 a month, but the DIY versions can be as low as $100 a month. If you’re sick of Thanksgiving leftovers and are considering living off Soylent, here’s a firsthand account of what it’s actually like:


Real talk. What does it taste like?
I’ve tried 3 different varieties of Soylent. Official Soylent, and two DIY recipes called Schmoylent and People Chow. Official Soylent tastes kind of like coffee, kind of like chocolate, and kind of like vanilla, but ultimately, not really like any of those. It is definitely the best tasting of the three I mentioned, and tastes even better when you blend in your favorite fruit! My second favorite is Schmoylent. As the name suggests, it is a DIY copy of official Soylent that is a pretty good imitation, although it doesn’t have any of the vanilla flavor that Soylent has. Schmoylent tastes like liquid oats with a little bit of stevia added for sweetness. It is the most plain and neutral tasting variety and could definitely benefit from having some fruit blended in, but sadly, we don’t have a blender in the van. People Chow is one of the cheapest varieties, but also my least favorite. It tastes like liquid tortilla, and began to get on my nerves when I drank it for a few days straight. I don’t think I could convince myself to drink it consistently.


Soylent Austin & Dimitri, with soylent.
Do you ever miss “real” food?
A full day’s worth of Soylent is 2000 calories, and while that might be enough for most people, it falls a bit short when you spend every day hiking and climbing. I supplement with Clif bars, fruit, and small snacks like carrots with hummus, or pretzels with peanut butter. This usually puts me nearer to the 3000 calorie mark. Additionally, when you meet new friends at the crag and they invite you out to dinner, it’s very rude to decline and just drink Soylent instead. I typically have a regular meal with friends once a week or so, and I also have a bit of a sweet tooth, so if I see a bakery selling cookies, I will tend to buy one… or three.


Could you live off Soylent for the rest of your life?
Once I’m done living out of my van, I plan to continue consuming Soylent for meals that I would otherwise eat alone. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner, if it’s not going to be a social meal, I would rather have Soylent.


Any bizarre side effects?
Dimitri, my climbing partner, finds that he no longer needs caffeine since starting on Soylent. We both have very vivid and lucid dreams that we discuss every morning, but other than that I feel like my body is running like a well oiled machine.


That’s interesting. How frequently are you lucid dreaming now?
I’m having extremely vivid and memorable dreams every night, but I haven’t been writing them down. I need to begin tracking them in order to achieve frequent lucidity. I’ve become lucid twice in my dreams so far, but I’d like to increase that number.


Do you ever rock climb in your dreams? Or what do you lucid dream about?
I haven’t done any climbing in my dreams. I love music, and I often find myself dreaming about my favorite musicians. For example, I had a dream last night, where I was riding in a car with The Tallest Man on Earth. However, I have only become lucid in dreams that featured a crisis of some sort. I get jerked into lucidity when the events of my dreams violate my moral principles. You can read more about my dream escapades here.