back to article My fortnight eating Blighty's own human fart-powder

The very phrase "food substitute" is enough to strike fear into the hearts of the Full-English loving workforce, and perhaps rightly so. Way back in the summer of 2013, former Reg man Jack Clark took one for the team by surviving on nothing but Soylent for seven nightmarish days and wrote up his experiences so that others …

  1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Food is not only sustenance

    Human civilization has grown up around food having a social function. Even lower primates share and enjoy food as a social function.

    Deliberately avoiding that part of our ancestry (it is not even cultural - it is genetic) and enjoying the process of doing so strikes me as a clear indication that someone needs a visit to the psychiatrist.

    No, thanks, I will have my proper lunch, not at my desk and in the company of other people *. Sociopaths can go eat their synthetic grub at their desk

    (*) Michael Duglas has a lot to answer for. Lunch is not for wimps. It is for normal people

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Food is not only sustenance

      Hey Voland

      We don't all live in France where everybody stops for a couple of hours for lunch with a carafe of red wine, the cafe abuzz with conversation. In the UK, so many of our lunch options could be considered 'food substitutes' - I'm talking about pale sandwiches, MacDonalds, Ginster's pasties, Nutrigrain bars and the like. Compared to that, spending £1.50 for something nutritious and not unpleasant seems a not unreasonable way to tide me over til i get to my own kitchen or pub. That a milkshake-like substance can be consumed whilst at the desk or driving seems like a bonus.

      So yeah, I agree with you that food should be a sensual pleasure, and a social occasion. However, I feel the current problems lie with our work culture, so we should look for solutions there before we call for the shrinks.

      1. Dr_N Silver badge

        Re: Food is not only sustenance

        @Dave 126

        "We don't all live in France where everybody stops for a couple of hours for lunch with a carafe of red wine,"

        Yeah, that rarely happens in France anymore. Why do you think France is now so more productive than the UK?

        The lunchtime delivery/take-out food options do still knock English fare into a cocked hat though.

        1. maffski

          Re: Food is not only sustenance

          @Dr_N

          'Why do you think France is now so more productive than the UK?'

          Because labour laws make automation more desirable? (Unemployment being twice as high in France)

        2. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

          Re: Food is not only sustenance

          "We don't all live in France where everybody stops for a couple of hours for lunch with a carafe of red wine,"

          Yeah, that rarely happens in France anymore.

          Whenever I go to visit my colleagues in France, lunch is *always* taken. Even if we're heavily constrained on time and running late, they will always insist we down tools and head to the canteen for a proper cooked meal (although there is the option of wine on draft, everyone seems to prefer soft drinks at lunchtime)

          1. Dr_N Silver badge

            Re: Food is not only sustenance

            >they will always insist we down tools and head to the canteen for a proper cooked meal

            Surprisingly not everywhere has a canteen, would you believe.

            Do they spend 2 hours in the canteen?

            1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

              Re: Food is not only sustenance

              Surprisingly not everywhere has a canteen, would you believe.

              There are countries that do not have them at all and where people still eat properly. The underlying reason is that UK is the only country in Europe to specifically make any company which tries to care about the health of its workers regret it. Taxwise.

              In the UK a company trying to provide decent food for people who work for it is _PENALIZED_ by having to jump through the hoops of this being taxed as a benefit. People should eat sandwiches, develop the associated gastrointestinal issues and obesity. Courtesy of Gordon Brown and Tony Blair. Why - no idea, these two f*** never did something without someone giving Labour a backhander, no idea who and what gave it to them on this one. Would not be surprised if it was some pastry company producing some hideous turds destined for Joe Average Worker's lunchbox.

              Elsewhere a company trying to provide decent food is _REWARDED_ for this via tax deduction. Some countries also force the issue of choice and quality by making the benefit payable as vouchers making the lunch break something all local food outlets compete for.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Food is not only sustenance

                Elsewhere a company trying to provide decent food is _REWARDED_ for this via tax deduction. Some countries also force the issue of choice and quality by making the benefit payable as vouchers making the lunch break something all local food outlets compete for.

                I can only speak for France, but this simply isn't the case there. All companies above a certain size (50 employees, usually) are required by law to provide subsidised food for their staff, either by an onsite canteen or by subsidised vouchers usable in local outlets under very strict rules. The only tax benefits are around VAT, which isn't payable, but since employer social security contributions in France are much higher than the UK or US the companies still end up paying hugely for this. A French employer pays around 43% of gross salary to the government per employee, compared to an EU average of around 24%, UK of 11% and US of 8%.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Food is not only sustenance

          Why do you think France is now so more productive than the UK?

          Because someone has swallowed the French goverment propaganda?

          Live there for a while and you'll see that "French productivity" is as much a myth as the 2-hour wine-fuelled lunch.

          1. Dr_N Silver badge

            Re: Food is not only sustenance

            >Live there for a while and you'll see that "French productivity" is as much a myth as the 2-hour wine-fuelled lunch.

            I have AC, for many, many years. And have observed the change away from

            apocryphal 2hr lunch breaks.

          2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

            Re: Food is not only sustenance

            Live there for a while and you'll see that "French productivity"

            France is not the only place where Lunch is Lunch. Most of Europe is in fact. Most of them are more productive than the UK too.

            If you go into an office there, you are usually shocked by how QUIET it is. The constant banter with several sociopaths socializing in the middle of the office loudly enough to spoil everyone's else work is non-existent. Want to socialize with co-workers - sure, grab an espresso or whatever else you fancy take your 15 minutes in the cafe OUTSIDE without f*** up everyone's work.

            The end result is that people do 8 hours in office and do them solid, just punctuated by an occasional coffee or food break. Using standard measures of productivity which are "time spent" vs "work done" this quite obviously results in higher productivity than 12 hours out of which 4+ are banter or being distracted by somebody's else banter.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Food is not only sustenance

              Most of them are more productive than the UK too.

              As always, it depends on how you measure it, and how accurate the inputs are. OECD data refers to "GDP per hour worked" in production. In USD the UK comes in at 101.4 compared to France at 104.3, Germany at 104.7 and Spain at 106.2. I find it hard to believe that Spain is more productive than Germany in any real measure.

              More interesting are the figures for "compensation per hour worked" which show the UK at 2, Germany at 2.3, Spain at 0.79 and France at 0.76. This could imply that French "productivity" comes on the back of very low wages, but France in general seems to have a similar standard of living to the UK and Germany.

              In my experience, living in France, it's much more likely that a very large amount of work is "au noir", i.e. undeclared and paid cash-in-hand to avoid the 35-hour week limitations. That makes the official compensation figures nonsensical, and means that the number of hours worked is far above the officially declared figures, so "productivity per hour" is much less. That fits with my personal, albeit anecdotal, experiences.

              1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

                Re: Food is not only sustenance

                I find it hard to believe that Spain is more productive than Germany in any real measure.

                I am not. I have worked with Spaniards for years and they only look laid back.

                Sure, they do not start before 10 and hardly ever do anything after 6 (which should be 9 and 5 if they had the right TZ). However in-between that they bulldoze a staggering amount of work out of the way.

                The fact that someone likes having a life and does not sleep in the office does not mean they are not productive. Just the opposite (having a life is an expensive thing, you have to work sufficiently to be able to support it).

          3. Nicko

            Re: Food is not only sustenance

            I lived and worked in France for a while (not in Paris - that is a different world again).

            After two months, the French director of the unit were were in called myself and the other English contractor in for a chat...

            "We have a problem", he said, "you are embarrassing your co-workers and stressing me out". We were shocked - we'd thought we'd been doing pretty well - getting stuff done quickly, not sitting around waiting to be given something else to do - we went out looking for ways to fill the time and help others - i.e. a completely normal Northern European work ethic - just what we'd normally do in London or wherever...

            However, it seems we were doing WAY too much, embarrassing our French colleagues (just by working normally) and stressing our managers because we kept looking for work.

            So, we changed our habits - did what we had to do, worked probably at 60%, filled the rest with socializing and going round other teams in the company asking if there was anything we could do for them. Effectively a three-day week.

            After 6 months of this, we were bored stupid - money was excellent, but not a way for a professional (by our or any sensible standards) to carry on.

            Sure enough, as the project end date loomed, panic set in among the French - they were way behind - "Can you work weekends?". "No". "We'll pay double". "Fine". So Karen (the other Brit) and I came in on the weekends. Of course there was nothing to do because the project management was sh*te. We drank coffee and timed our day by the fresh bake cycle of the local patisserie.

            Switched jobs at the end of the year. To make it clear, out colleagues were all lovely people, but their work ethic was awful.

            NB. I've lived in, worked in and went to school in France - love the country, but would never ever run a business there,

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Food is not only sustenance

          Yeah, that rarely happens in France anymore. Why do you think France is now so more productive than the UK?

          Because they need to catch up with all the work they drop when they have yet another strike?

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: Food is not only sustenance

            Just to clarify, it is Brittany that I am most familiar with, and the Bretons don't consider themselves to be French, especially with regards to international rugby tournaments. They save their real contempt for Parisians, though.

            The food is simple and delicious - especially if you like pork products, crepes and horse and chips.

            1. Triggerfish

              Re: Food is not only sustenance

              Even lower primates share and enjoy food as a social function.

              Primates will hide food from others and eat off to one side, it's a way of making sure members of the group above them in the pecking order do not steal their food. There's thoughts that these sort of habits, can be partially responsible for rises in intelligence evoloution wise.

        5. TheVogon Silver badge

          Re: Food is not only sustenance

          "Why do you think France is now so more productive than the UK?"

          It isn't. According to the World Bank, the UK is 22nd globally by GDP per person and France is 26th.

          Only ~ 8 of the 28 EU countries are more productive than the UK - and France isn't one of them.

          1. Seajay#

            Re: Food is not only sustenance

            Productivity is not GDP per head it's GDP per hour worked.

            By that measure, France does beat us. That's not necessarily a good thing though. They could just be keeping their less productive people unemployed. Arguably not great socially.

            https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(PPP)_per_hour_worked

            1. TheVogon Silver badge

              Re: Food is not only sustenance

              "Productivity is not GDP per head it's GDP per hour worked."

              Erm no it isn't. Local policies and employee preference can influence hours worked so it's a meaningless figure. What really matters to GDP is how much each person produces. So for instance France has an incredibly short working week so per hour makes more, but in terms of actually producing stuff per employee lags behind us...Ditto the USA - long hours and short holidays mean less per hour, but high per person GDP.

          2. Voland's right hand Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: Food is not only sustenance

            It isn't. According to the World Bank, the UK is 22nd globally by GDP per person and France is 26th.

            It is. That is GDP per capita, not per capita per hour. You forgot to normalize per hour worked so it describes overall work produced, not productivity (which is how much do you produce in a unit of time).

            UK is the most rabid violator of the working hours directive and the only country where you have difficulty crossing the door on the first day without signing a waver for the limits set in it. On average a UK office worker spends 20% more in the office than any of its European counterparts.

            So if you normalize that versus average hours worked UK ends up with one of the worst productivities out of all major economies. Not surprising - just spend 30 mins in a UK open plan office and the same time in let's say Germany, Spain, France or Eastern Europe and you will immediately see why. The "eat at your desk, because you should be chained to it" is part of that disease and we should fight it, not beat ourselves in the chest with pride about it.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Food is not only sustenance

              UK is the most rabid violator of the working hours directive and the only country where you have difficulty crossing the door on the first day without signing a waver for the limits set in it. On average a UK office worker spends 20% more in the office than any of its European counterparts

              Officially. In France you can't legally have a waiver, so people simply work the extra hours illegally and don't declare them. Many low-paid workers have an official job for their legal-max 35 hours, and then do another 20-30 illegal hours, paid under the table. They work just as many hours as similar low-paid UK workers, but because they're doing them illegally they have no social security protection for them, no minimum-wage protection, no health & safety cover, etc.

        6. macjules Silver badge

          Re: Food is not only sustenance

          Don't think the instructions regarding not taking a 2 hour lunch break have reached the Cote D'Azur yet. They might have brought it down to around 1.5 hours, but everything still comes to a complete halt between 12:30 and 2:00pm.

          Vive le difference, as they might say

        7. Boring Bob

          Re: Food is not only sustenance

          You need to change companies. I have lived in France for over 20 years and everywhere I have worked has always stopped work for at least an hour at lunch.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Food is not only sustenance

            I have lived in France for over 20 years and everywhere I have worked has always stopped work for at least an hour at lunch.

            Not everyone wants that. I interact with my colleagues all day, in meetings, phone calls, emails. Lunch at my desk is a chance to close the office door for 45 minutes or so of peace and quiet, when I can read the paper, check personal email etc. Much more relaxing than an hour in a noisy cafeteria, trying to make small talk about football, politics or children's illnesses.

            Yeah, I'm an antisocial old git. Sue me. :)

      2. Doc Ock
        Thumb Up

        Re: Food is not only sustenance

        >Ginster's pasties

        Eww, as Gordon Ramsay once said "Shit in a bag". They look bugger all and taste bugger all like a decent pastie, more like something I've wiped off my shoe.

        Have an upvote for pointing out shit being misrepresented as food.

        1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

          Re: Food is not only sustenance

          Used to drive past their factory every morning - suffice to say the smell is enough to put you off them for life. Not for nothing are they generally referred to as "nasty pasties".

          Gimme a Philps any day!

          1. Doc Ock

            Re: Food is not only sustenance

            >Gimme a Philps any day!

            Now that is a proper pastie, bloody marvellous. Dammit I could just kill one now.

        2. MJI Silver badge

          Re: Ginsters

          I take it then that you have never tried Pork Farms or Walls.

          Ginsters are not great but they are better than a lot of similar packeted foods.

          We can't all live in Cornwall.

          Ginsters 5/10, Pork Farms 2/10, Rowes 9/10, my Mums were 10/10

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: Ginsters

            >I take it then that you have never tried Pork Farms or Walls. Ginsters are not great but they are better than a lot of similar packeted foods.

            Agreed, and that's kind of the point: walk into any convenience store or petrol station in the UK and your chances of finding anything actually edible are slim.

            In any case, the best pasties come from Barnstaple in Devon. East West Bakery on Butcher's Row - next to the covered market. Strangely, my Cornish friends still speak to me!

          2. Mike 'H'

            Re: Ginsters

            Everyone's mum makes the best food :)

            1. dan1980

              Re: Ginsters

              Here's the summary:

              If you can (with all that implies - time, resources, location, facilities), then a properly balanced diet composed of real food and fresh produce, consumed in healthy portions is not only good for you, but often cheaper (depends) and provides additional benefits such as satisfaction, taste, some small measure of exercise and activity in preparation and also an opportunity for socialising.

              But all that is a governed by the mighty 'if'.

              IF you have the time - not just to prepare but to eat it. IF you have the resources. IF you are in a location where preparing - or even bringing - fresh food is possible. IF you have the know-how (some people are really bad at cooking). IF you have the knowledge to choose a properly balanced and healthy diet and the will-power to do so. IF you are in a location and situation where you could and and want to socialise during meals.

              The simple truth is that, whatever the reason, vast numbers of people are not in a position to do this, at least not for three meals a day, seven days a week. And the reality is that those meals that don't qualify are often either skipped or end up being less than healthy.

              You decades, meal replacements have been utterly woeful - being aimed either at helping people lose weight or to supplement a poor nutritional intake. Anyone who has been on one for any length of time will attest that the result is often less energy. A replacement designed, from the ground up, to be a full, every meal of you life diet is needed, not so people can actually live on it, but so that those people who do, for whatever period and for whatever reason, decide to use it as a meal replacement, are getting something that is not deficient, nutritionally, when compared with 'real' food.

              If people can't see value in that then they need not ever use it.

              And certainly, anyone who worries that such options will cause the human race to become anti-social and devolve into pre-human savages can rest easy. Well, at least they can stop blaming meal replacements because if someone who otherwise could have nice social meals of healthy food in properly balanced portions chooses to eschew that so they can live alone, shunning all human contact, you can be sure that the reason is not the availability of this meal-replacement or its cousins. A person so inclined will do that anyway, it's just that most will resort to less-optimal diets and so put a strain on the health system later in life with all the problems that come with poor nutrition.

              And, while I'm at it, plenty of people where I work (and sometimes myself) go to the gym in a group during their lunch break and then scoff a shake afterwards, spending next-to-no time actually ingesting any nutrition. I can vouch that there is a lot of socialising and that the result is a good work-out, a de-stress from the morning's work and a healthier body. We have a laugh and there is a lot of 'bonding' and good-natured ribbing along with mutual encouragement and genuine celebration of each others' goals - all the better to spur ourselves to do better.

              I'll also mention that 'shakes' - on the train from work no less - has allowed me to meet up with friend for our indoor cricket matches that I would never be able to make, had I gone home and had a nice social meal with my partner first.

              So don't discount the idea that taking drastically less time for a meal somehow automatically means that one is missing out of important social, emotional and health benefits.

            2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

              Re: Ginsters

              Everyone's mum makes the best food :)

              Which is never quite as good as Gran's food, though :)

            3. Dagg
              Coat

              Re: Ginsters

              Everyone's mum makes the best food :)

              No way, mine was Scottish and everything was either deep fried, boiled to oblivion (20m or more) or burnt. You should have seen her steak eggs and chips. The steak was black and hard, the egg was rubbery and chips, well it is quite difficult to stuff up chips but there were times when they were so crisp.

              As least my dutch father could cook.

      3. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Food is not only sustenance

        seems a not unreasonable way to tide me over til i get to my own kitchen or pub.

        You have your own pub? Jammy bastard!

      4. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: Food is not only sustenance

        We don't all live in France

        Neither do I. I still take my 30-40 mins break to have a proper lunch and never, ever eat at my desk. I also use that time to socialize, talk to my colleagues, relax and get by brain together. Much better than doing the classic British open office thing of messing up everyone's else concentration and work via constant banter.

        This also has something to do with having to deal with hundreds of keyboards with microbial infestation comparable to spreading a turd over them during my IT years. If you eat at your desk, I suggest disassembling your keyboard after one year and licking it. That should cure you of this habit.

        1. Triggerfish

          Re: Food is not only sustenance

          That's nice but just because you do this, does not mean the rest of us want to or should.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Food is not only sustenance

          @Voland's right hand :

          I often skip lunch. Other times I take it at 3pm. Sometimes at my desk, sometimes not. I can assure you that my keyboard is in excellent shape, because I have the habit of moving it before eating. I have cleaned enough of the filthy buggers when I was in the trenches.

          What I don't understand that you actually got upvotes after your first post. Calling people sociopaths for preferring to lunch alone ? Really ? I have not lunched with *any* colleague in almost 2 decades, with the exceptions being a)abroad and b)at an event or conference. It's amazing really that I haven't killed anyone (yet) or am able to function as a normal member of society.

          What do you for dinner by the way ? I always cook for me, the missus and the sprogs. Fresh ingredients. We always eat together with the family, books, tv and phones/tablets are not allowed as a general rule. Maybe you have something similar, maybe you don't. In the latter case, should I assume you're a sociopath ?

        3. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

          Re: Food is not only sustenance / licking your keyboard

          Okay, who else thought "keyboard sanitizer"?

          ...which, as I have learned recently, is actually a thing. As are telephone sanitizers; at least in Switzerland.

          1. illiad

            Re: Food is not only sustenance / licking your keyboard

            There are plenty of **waterproof** keyboards about... even the new dell ones have HOLES to drain the water out while you run it under the tap|!!!

        4. Tikimon Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Food is not only sustenance IN KEYBOARDS

          Here's a surreal take on that. Check it out!

          http://english.bouletcorp.com/2016/07/29/when-the-world-crumbles/

          ***

          Boulet is an awesome webcomic artist. Here's another for us IT types about mouse trouble.

          http://english.bouletcorp.com/2015/06/09/of-mice-and-men/

        5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Food is not only sustenance

          "Much better than doing the classic British open office thing of messing up everyone's else concentration and work via constant banter."

          I don't actually work in in an office but my work does does take me into other peoples offices at times. The big open plan offices seem to be far more noisy with banter as people take their staggered "lunch" breaks any time from about 11:30am to 2:30pm.

          And there's nowt worse than trying to do a job next to some ignorant twat with no manners who eats like a cow chewing the cud and talks with their mouth full of food.

        6. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Food is not only sustenance

          I still take my 30-40 mins break to have a proper lunch and never, ever eat at my desk.

          You lucky sod! Try working for IBM, they consider your lunch time as unproductive time that they can use for meetings training etc. The project managers are happy with this as it means it doesn't come from the "project" time budget.

          They call them "Brown Bag Lunches" and it means you have to supply your own lunch, it becomes a real problem if you don't bring you lunch to work and need to go out and buy something. They consider that you are "letting down the team" as people have to wait on their own time while you selfishly buy your lunch.

          If you refuse to "Brown Bag" then this is reflected in your performance appraisal. Bastards!

        7. rototype

          Re: Food is not only sustenance

          A colleague of mine always gets his lunch from the canteen as a carry out and always eats it at his desk - he has found that this is the only way to avoid having the users pestering him with IT issues that should be logged in the proper manner (ie helpdesk) while he's trying to eat.

      5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: Food is not only sustenance

        "That a milkshake-like substance can be consumed whilst...driving seems like a bonus."

        Please don't. Just. Don't. I have enough twats to deal with out on the road as it is.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Food is not only sustenance

          Please don't. Just. Don't. I have enough twats to deal with out on the road as it is.

          I think it's OK. At least a shake doesn't try to have a deep conversation with them whilst driving, it's staggering to see just how many people phone or even text whilst driving.

    2. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: Food is not only sustenance

      @Voland's right hand, while I share your sentiment about social function of eating, I am also offended by the suggestion that eating alone might be a sign of a troubled mind. Some of us simply do not have a company to eat with, nor appropriate place to seek such company. Or simply prefer eating alone for whatever reason. While such preference might be justifiably called "unsocial", I feel you have crossed the line here.

    3. Paul Shirley

      Re: Food is not only sustenance

      On the infrequent times I work in the office, my lunch time is reserved for extremely violent socialising with coworkers in whatever LAN FPS is in favour. Crumb free snacking while waiting to respawn.

      Anything else is just wasted time :)

    4. Triggerfish

      Re: Food is not only sustenance

      I spend a lot of time talking to people, at work and in other companies, when I make a brew stopping and chatting in the corridors between offices happens as well as in our office during work. There's plenty of human interaction in my life, sometimes sitting down in a bit of peace and quiet and not having to talk to anyone and just having a quiet meal is better to recharge.

      Not a sociopath, introvert.

    5. Eddy Ito Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: Food is not only sustenance

      Even lower primates share and enjoy food as a social function.

      Well yes, being social animals with a substantial amount of their lifetime spent foraging for food and eating it would naturally be a social function. Then again given the lives of lower primates there isn't likely to be much privacy or alone time at all given the tendency of solitary members to wind up as food for another species. Perhaps even food for a pride of lions who will also dine together instead of a sociopathic leopard.

    6. eesiginfo

      Re: Food is not only sustenance

      I believe the writer of the piece, talked about mixing the two - a nutrient filler and a sit-down meal.

      This could make sense, as productive members of society are now increasingly choosing how they work.

      If the creative urge is upon you, the last thing that you want to do is 'break the moment'.

      The key is to run with your productive flow, and that often doesn't conform to a noon break.

      Therefore, grabbing a nutrient drink that leaves you satisfied, may be far better than ordering in a Pizza (presuming that it is actually a healthy alternative).

      Perhaps you can then get the job done and piss off early, and later sit down with your family or friends for a good nosh up.

      Personally, I have a full English to set me up for the day, and then don't eat again until the evening meal (but I do get the concept of a midday filler).

      What would stop me is the pricing.

      It sounds crazy.

      It looks like everything is dry goods, that is simply ground up, and bagged.

      It doesn't get any cheaper than that.

      Even buying individually packaged wet goods, transported to a supermarket, and sold at a profit, is cheaper than that.

      Saucisse de Strasbourg 10 cents

      1 egg 11 cents

      bacon portion 15 cents

      Tomato portion 15 cents

      Mushroom portion 15 cents

      2 slices of wholegrain toast - 10 cents

      Potatoe - almost free @ 30 cents/Kg (1 saved from last night to re-fry)

      Drop of mustard - almost free

      Stick all that in a decent frying pan on lowish heat, and by the time the tea has brewed, and the computer booted...

      ... and for way less than a quid... 80 pence tops... you are sitting down to a great meal, and checking out your news feeds.

      ...... All that, involving special packaging, vacuums, inert gas, food management etc.

      Yet a bag of ground, dried food, hits £1.30 per meal (ie. a bit of mass-produced powder)!!!!

      On top of that.... your PC hasn't finished booting and loading your apps, and your tea hasn't even brewed after boiling the water.

      .... and where's the toast?

      Okay, I get that it is cheaper than ordering a pizza delivery.... but everything is cheaper than ordering pizza..... even a top quality steak... and don't even mention griddled kidneys and onions (almost free).

      So... as a midday filler at 40p a pop... fine.

      But at those prices, I'm not going to give up on a decent breakfast to set me up for the day.

    7. Paul Johnson 1

      Re: Food is not only sustenance

      For some yes, but there are a lot of people for whom cooking and eating is a joyless and solitary chore. If you live on your own then spending an hour or two every evening cooking, eating and cleaning gets old real fast.

    8. Baldy1138

      Re: Food is not only sustenance

      Apparently eating like a primate has not improved your own social skills. Perhaps your premise is flawed.

  2. Lotaresco Silver badge
    IT Angle

    Where's the IT angle?

    Other than proving that most people involved in IT are too idle to learn how to cook, that is. I had a look at Huel at the time that the company was prolifically spamming Faecebok. As a former scientist turned IT droid for many, many decades I was completely and utterly underwhelmed. It's simply flour of pulses and grains with added flavouring.

    You could get a better meal, for much lower cost simply by learning the lessons of our ancestors and stocking up on dry goods. A slow cooker would also help.

    I've chosen to live in isolation myself, not as isolated at the Highlands, but it's six miles in any direction to a shop. So our food economy consists of stuff we grow ourselves, dried goods bought in bulk and collected when we make trips to civilisation or delivered from Amazon. We also stock up on "ambient storage" foods in what my wife calls "the nuclear winter cupboard".

    I have a deep loathing of these "shakes" on the grounds that the taste makes me want to retch and I don't think that the human race evolved to suck on pap all day long. Keep going on this stuff and I suspect scurvy is on the agenda.

    1. Groaning Ninny

      Re: Where's the IT angle?

      *yawn*

      So you're unable to understand that ElReg doesn't always post strictly IT related articles, you're unable to read the link (which is a bit of a clue as to the content of the article), and you clearly didn't read the article and have no real knowledge on the topic, yet you still felt the need to give us your opinion.

      Fair enough, I guess.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Daggerchild Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: Where's the IT angle?

      "and I don't think that the human race evolved to suck on pap all day"

      Nipples to that, because we in fact did evolve to suck on milky fluid all day (albeit from mom not pap).

      1. Andrew Moore Silver badge

        Re: Where's the IT angle?

        I do believe that "pap" is proto-germanic for nipple and is still in some use in English.

        1. Synonymous Howard

          Re: Where's the IT angle?

          Yes the Elizabethans loved their Spanish Paps.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Where's the IT angle?

        Nipples to that, because we in fact did evolve to suck on milky fluid all day (albeit from mom not pap).

        Hey, stop saying icky things about my pap. No more pap smears!

      3. illiad

        Re: Where's the IT angle? suck on milky fluid?

        well I think the proper age of many here is not 18 months or less...

        effective age is another thing... :P :)

    3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Where's the IT angle?

      Where's the IT angle?

      The IT angle is that IT is the only technical profession where "food as sustenance" + "food at your desk" are considered to be the signature of an ultimate hard working geek.

      Try eating at your desk in molecular biology, microbiology or chemistry. Bonus points for doing so while working with radioactive isotopes (in the former two) or chemicals with LD50 in the micrograms (both). Additional bonus points for eating while working with antibiotic resistance plasmids and E. Coli of course, but that is for the really hard core idiots among us.

      (*) Disclaimer - I am biased as I have gone through the afore mentioned subjects to a degree level before converting to IT and I fully agree with my old organic chemistry professor (and faculty dean) who gave an immediate F to anyone bringing food or drink in the lab (regardless is it eaten or not)

      1. Lotaresco Silver badge

        Re: Where's the IT angle?

        "I am biased as I have gone through the afore mentioned subjects to a degree level before converting to IT"

        Blimey YMYA.

        I'm sort of laughing at the person who claimed I know nothing about nutrition, and at the concept that it's possible to produce a "shake" that has all the essential nutrients. Given that we're still learning what the essential nutrients are and that beige powder has no flavonoids I think it's a reasonable guess that it's about as nutritionally complete as a beer mat.

        Here's a clue kids, beige food is bad for you, that's the law.

        1. Semtex451 Silver badge

          Here's a clue kids, beige food is bad for you, that's the law.

          One word - Porridge

          1. Mark 85 Silver badge

            Re: Here's a clue kids, beige food is bad for you, that's the law.

            One word - Porridge

            I was thinking gruel... which seems close to Huel..

    4. ppster

      Re: Where's the IT angle?

      Hi Lotaresco

      I read your comment with great interest.

      I WFH , in the depths of the countryside in Ireland, about 3 miles from the nearest village , that has a small general purpose store, and about 10 miles from a large(ish) town that has some supermarkets.

      We shop for "supplies" as I call them , every week , mostly fresh fruit , veggies , meat and fish , as well as canned goods , bread, rice and pasta etc. I feed a family of five , mostly healthy fresh cooked meals every day , very economically (and tasty if I do say so myself).

      I am very interested in your dried goods bought in bulk , and the ambient storage foods, dry goods and the slow cooker you mentioned . I would like to learn what you and your family do on the slow cooker front , and the dry goods.

      If you have some free time, I would greatly appreciate communicating with you on this.

      thanks in advance

      Patrick

  3. DrXym Silver badge

    I really don't see the point

    I could see potential uses for people on extremely restricted diets, under the supervision of a dietician and providing the ingredients were rigorously controlled and medically efficacious. I suppose it might also prove useful in survival kits and suchlike, providing there were fresh water to mix it with. But those are edge cases for situations where there few other options.

    Otherwise, these powders are bland, expensive and actually require as much or more preparation and inconvenience than just eating an energy bar, cup-a-soup, pot noodle, sandwich or whatever else constitutes actual food albeit of the convenience variety.

    And preparing, cooking and eating food is a pleasure - the taste, texture, smell, variety, the feeling of a full belly. Anyone who is so time poor they can't eat real food, even fast food, is not addressing the fundamental problem by eating / drinking glop.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: I really don't see the point

      Well, don't see it as a replacement for 'real food'. See it as a replacement for cup noodles and energy bars.

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: I really don't see the point

        The point is that a bland, more expensive, harder to prepare, powder that must be shaken into a gloop isn't a replacement for those things. Even if you're time poor there are better choices.

        1. Tom 38 Silver badge

          Re: I really don't see the point

          The point is that a bland, more expensive, harder to prepare, powder that must be shaken into a gloop isn't a replacement for those things. Even if you're time poor there are better choices.

          More expensive? TFA says between £1.30 and £1.60 a meal. I'm about to pop out and buy a sandwich, salad or hotpot for lunch, which will cost between £4 and £8. Dinner tonight is a diet M&S ready meal and some fresh veg, £4.

          Harder to prepare? Measure, pour, shake well, drink. Fetching and retrieving the sandwich takes at least 15 minutes, queuing up in M&S at least 5.

          "Bland gloop" - I'll give you that one.

          The main thing I have against these sorts of food replacements is that they will never be an adequate replacement for food, so eventually you will go back to a food diet. Eating this stuff will not help you develop a healthy food diet, so when you do switch back you will overeat and eat the wrong things.

          Me and a friend both were trying to lose weight at the same time, we each lost between 30-50kg, me slightly more than him. He lost it by switching to SlimFast for all meals, I lost it by changing my diet to salads and low fat/low carb/low GI foods and reducing portion size. He has subsequently put everything back on after switching back to food (he literally went straight back to Greggs for breakfast and lunch..).

    2. Groaning Ninny

      Re: I really don't see the point

      Aha - the difference is that this has all that is actually needed to fuel a human (thus the name). Even consuming all a n energy bar, cup-a-soup, pot noodle and sandwich *combined* won't give you the nutrients that Huel (or similar - other products are available) will.

      I wouldn't deny it's expensive and not exactly appealing in itself, but it does a job. I've been tempted to try something like this just to help ensure I get a good balance of essential nutrients instead of the crap I can so easily consume instead for lunch.

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: I really don't see the point

        "Aha - the difference is that this has all that is actually needed to fuel a human (thus the name). Even consuming all a n energy bar, cup-a-soup, pot noodle and sandwich *combined* won't give you the nutrients that Huel (or similar - other products are available) will."

        Bollocks. People conspicuously manage to not drop like flies from eating normal food. One can only assume from that fact that they're getting more than adequate nutrients and calories from the food they eat.

    3. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: I really don't see the point

      "And preparing, cooking and eating food is a pleasure"

      For you maybe, personally, of those three only eating it brings me any pleasure and only some of the time at that. Most of the time it's about as much fun as filling my car up with petrol, but slightly cheaper.

      If you enjoy preparing food, great! Just don't assume that everyone else enjoys it too.

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: I really don't see the point

        "If you enjoy preparing food, great! Just don't assume that everyone else enjoys it too."

        I think you'll find virtually everyone enjoys it to some degree. Even if the "preparation" is merely putting some bread in a toaster, boiling a kettle for a cup of tea, or dipping a biscuit in the tea. Even Huel aficionados presumably derive some pleasure from shaking their mixer to derive their food.

        Now perhaps you aren't one of those people, but if it makes you happy, you may add "in general" to the front.

    4. Ledswinger Silver badge

      Re: I really don't see the point

      under the supervision of a dietician and providing the ingredients were rigorously controlled and medically efficacious

      Why should powder-based diets be so controlled? There's no rigorous controls on the rubbish that most of us sling in our shopping trolleys or buy in fast food joints (and to judge by the horsemeat scandal) there's certainly no control of their production either.

    5. LewisRage

      Re: I really don't see the point

      You do realise he was cooking a proper meal most evenings don't you?

    6. keithpeter
      Pint

      Re: I really don't see the point

      @DrXym and all

      "If I could prepare proper meals every day I would, and would probably ditch Huel in a heartbeat; perhaps at best leaving some in a cupboard for emergencies of some kind."

      Quote above from OA (I wish OA the best of health by the way and I count my blessings being in possession of two strong and well functioning legs after 6 decades on the planet).

      How long does the powder last I wonder?

      Beer icon: no food icon available

    7. Just Enough

      Re: I really don't see the point

      "The point" would be a whole lot clearer in the article actually explained that weight loss was one of the aims of the change in diet. Is Huel all about bulking up, or slimming down? We aren't told. Since he has previously documented about long term health problems, loss of energy, and inability to prepare meals, it's not unreasonable to think Mr Martinson is significantly under-weight and weight-gain is the intention.

      So when the article just drops into the discussion these weight loses, we are clueless as to whether this is a good thing or not. Does it indicate success for the product? Or is it all going wrong and making Mr Martinson weight an even greater cause for concern? It's not until the end that we can infer that weight loss was the aim.

      As to whether 4kg in a fortnight is extreme or not, well it rather depends on your starting weight. But again we're not given any hints to what this might be.

      Good article, just a bit of clarity as to the purpose of the exercise at the start would have helped. And why the headline focused on something that the article explained specifically didn't happen?

  4. Andyman

    An excellent 'option'

    I decided to try out Huel last year, curious to see what it was like while they had an introductory offer on.

    One of the reasons I liked the idea was that as a Type 1 Diabetic I should really eat regularly and healthily. After working long hours or driving I got into a rut of not eating and then binging via the ridiculously easy Just Eat app.

    Always having this on hand gives me no excuse to skip a meal. I only use it (yes 'use' it Dave Gorman) once or twice a week and it genuinely fills me up. Sure it doesn't taste like egg and chips but when I'm on the move and need to eat - it's brilliant.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: An excellent 'option'

      I'm going to have a go at it too, not as a permanent solution but as a sort of "treatment".

      At present, I am stupidly short on time, so Huel could save me that. On the other hand, there's no obligation or requirement to "huel" all the time, so I could, for instance, swap that with decent meals. The benefit I see is that a period of Huel would make for a stabilisation, and (as someone else rightly commented), it's a far more balanced substitute for cup noodles*, mars bars and McDonalds.

      * I worked for a company that assisted in improving cup noodle production. FYI, none of them have touched the stuff since after that assignment..

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Using KrissLaure myself

    Initially it was for weight loss. Now it's because I'm not hungry before 11 A.M. and my wife refuses to let me leave without a breakfast of some sort. But there's also the better feeling thing.

    When I started using this food substitute, I was at a point where my weight was as much a problem as my sleep apneia. I was tired all day, and it was especially hard after lunch. Head dropping on keyboard was a real risk. Sure, I needed exercise, and I have been moving more since then, but I needed something to help me lose weight faster than that.

    Before starting on this substitute, I took the flyer to my docter to have her opinion on it. She looked at the flyer for over a minute, then looked at me and asked me if I could get more flyers for some of her patients that could use it. That decided me.

    KrissLaure makes a product that they market as a properly-balanced meal replacement you can take without medical supervision. There are two main categories (breakfast and dinner), and a half-dozen flavors in each category. They maintain that breakfast and supper are the meals to be replaced, leaving lunch to your entire discretion. Nothing is forbidden, you're just asked to not pig out and eat reasonable proportions.

    As far as taste is concened, I'm fine with the product. What interests me even more, though, is the total disparition of head-dropping-on-keyboard. I'm now awake all day without trouble, even when I did not sleep enough the night before.

    So, even when I do reach my target weight (which is in progress), I will keep taking the breakfast variety because it suits me perfectly.

    YMMV, of course.

  6. mhoulden

    The name "Huel" is supposed to be a portmanteau of "Human" and "Fuel". However I prefer Dave Gorman's suggestion that it's actually "Hipster Gruel".

    1. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Skeptical that I could stomach such a mixture, the name suggests more the sound I'd be making leaning over the lavatory bowl.

      1. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

        Beat me to it. Have an up-vote.

    2. hopkinse

      It's disturbingly close to the scottish word 'huey' which means sick/vomit or the act of producing such! 'Nuff said! ;-)

      1. Daggerchild Silver badge
        Coffee/keyboard

        Onomatopoetic persuasion

        Aye, the first thing 'Huel' brings to mind is that that it is the exact noise I make while vomiting. Hurm.

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Devil

      I think it's more sinister than Dave Gorman's Hipster Gruel. It does mean Human Gruel, but the point is that it's not for humans, but made of them. Huel is people!

  7. WibbleMe

    Looks a bit like the food in Silent Running Movie (1972)

    If you have not see if it's about future earth that eats flavorless food like this powder and decides it does not need green plants or food any more, even though they are in a big space green house.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Well worth watching. One of Douglas Trumbull's few movies as a director. Works a a movie, shows that you can do good FX on a budget.

      Writeup on IMDB,

      writeup on Jimbopedia,

      Trailer.

      1. Synonymous Howard

        Watching the loss of Louie always makes me well up 8-)

        1. Triggerfish

          That whole film is such a downer.

          Don't get me wrong great film, but it's one of those you have to be in the right mood to watch.

  8. Lotaresco Silver badge

    If I could prepare proper meals every day I would

    Hang on. In your last whine fascinating article. You observed that you would like someone to give you an income for doing nothing on the basis that you don't have a job or any prospect of getting one. One is drawn to conclude therefore that there is infinite time available for the preparation of a decent meal. Also given a constrained budget, the use of ready meals of any variety is the worst economic choice possible.

    Comments about lassitude and inability to raise a finger coupled with feeling better after getting some calories inside you lead to a suspicion that what you need isn't packet superfood but some basic nutritional advice.

    Cooking a decent meal isn't hard, doesn't require huge amounts of energy in terms of fuel or human effort and eating regular healthy meals is the best way to restore health after a period of illness.

    Go and get hold of a copy of "Cooking in a bedsit" and use it.

    PS: The tone of this article is very much like "product placement" in that it has no relevance to the theme of The Register and it's pushing a single trademarked product.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: If I could prepare proper meals every day I would

      Cooking a decent meal isn't hard, doesn't require huge amounts of energy in terms of fuel or human effort and eating regular healthy meals is the best way to restore health after a period of illness.

      That's true. But I know somebody with ME and for them it's irrelevant.

    2. Drewc Gold badge

      Re: If I could prepare proper meals every day I would

      Product placement? What a weird reading.

    3. paulf Silver badge
      Pirate

      Re: If I could prepare proper meals every day I would

      @Lotaresco "PS: The tone of this article is very much like "product placement""

      The Huel PR department play serious hard ball if they got a full length advertorial in El Reg while also getting the article author to pay full price for the product being reviewed...

    4. Steve Todd
      Stop

      Re: If I could prepare proper meals every day I would

      @Lotaresco - you missed the bit about him having health issues that meant he was physically incapable of work? Why do you think that would have no impact on his ability to cook also?

    5. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: If I could prepare proper meals every day I would

      Good grief. The judgemental grumpy-arses seem to be out in force today.

      I had a pretty cynical view of the stuff, given that my only knowledge of it was Dave Gorman taking the piss and the stories I have read about Soylent. Which as well as having an awful name, doesn't appear to have done much in the way of nutritional balancing. If this stuff is being made by properly qualified people, and they've made serious efforts to put in trace minerals and vitamins and all that good stuff (I admit I'm too lazy to check), then that's not an altogether bad thing. And if it helps someone to have make their life better, than who am I to sit on the sidelines bitching? Even if I think it's a bad idea, it's still better than not getting a balanced meal anyway because you're too knackered to cook.

      1. moiety

        Re: If I could prepare proper meals every day I would

        It's definitely fake. Food preparation in Scotland and there was no attempt to deep-fry anything. Strains the credulity.

        Mind you, so does dropping 3.8Kg in 14 days. That's a significant -nay worrying- amount of body to go adrift in that sort of time-frame.

        1. Mycho Silver badge

          Re: If I could prepare proper meals every day I would

          When people obsess over huge weight loss in short periods of time, it's usually the case that a big part of it was digestive tract contents. I'd expect Huel to result in people carrying less undigested food inside their stomach and intestines, maybe even a significant part of that 3.8Kg.

  9. AlgernonFlowers4
    Pint

    Brawndo - The Thirst Mutilator!

    It's got electrolytes!

  10. Geoff Campbell
    Windows

    Hipsters discover SlimFast...

    Truly, there's nothing new under the sun.

    To all those eulogising real food, absolutely - I live to eat. But sometimes it's not convenient to prepare a meal from fresh ingredients, so I fall back on something prepared. And one day, that might be Huel or one of the many competitors we are no doubt about to encounter. Life isn't perfect, sometimes a bit of convenience is OK.

    GJC

    1. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: Hipsters discover SlimFast...

      Slimfast, whey protein, powdered egg, soy, powdered soup etc.

      In WW2, the lifeboats had this crap called pemmican which was a paste made from fat, meat, flour, fruit, sugar etc. Basically emergency food that packed the biggest calorific punch in the smallest space.

      1. Groaning Ninny

        Re: Hipsters discover SlimFast...

        Almost. This isn't just designed to give calories, it's made to give a balance of the stuff you need to live, long term. Not much joy in that path, I'm sure, but it should work.

        1. DrXym Silver badge

          Re: Hipsters discover SlimFast...

          "Almost. This isn't just designed to give calories, it's made to give a balance of the stuff you need to live, long term. Not much joy in that path, I'm sure, but it should work."

          Except that in the absence of long term studies showing the life expectancy or health outcomes of people eating Huel shakes every day for their entire lives versus other diets, there is no basis in fact for making that claim.

          1. Lotaresco Silver badge

            Re: Hipsters discover SlimFast...

            "there is no basis in fact for making that claim."

            Correct.

            I think what's happening here is that people want to believe that they can slurp down some gruel and that life will be fine. If someone has got to the stage of thinking that food is just fuel then a I pity them.

            1. Dave 126 Silver badge

              Re: Hipsters discover SlimFast...

              >If someone has got to the stage of thinking that food is just fuel then a I pity them

              Sometimes I drink a liquid because I really enjoy the taste. Sometimes I drink water purely to quench my thirst, which is a different sort of pleasure to savouring taste and flavour. Sometimes I drink water not because I feel thirsty, but because I know I'll feel better for doing so some the morning. Sometimes I drink because I want to be less sober.

              Food is the same. Sometimes I eat because I want to enjoy the taste. Sometimes because i feel really hungry. Sometimes I eat because intellectually I know it will be good for me and that to eat later will get in the way of my planned drinking.

              1. Synonymous Howard

                Re: Hipsters discover SlimFast...

                If someone has a headache, drink water, wait a bit and see if it goes away (as they were probably just dehydrated).

      2. Peter2 Silver badge

        Re: Hipsters discover SlimFast...

        And 150 years before that in the Napoleonic wars the Sick & Hurt board introduced Portable Soup for the Royal Navy which was conceptually similar. A form of meat and veg soup boiled until all the water had evaporated leaving a solid mass cut into portion sized lumps, and resurrected back into soup by taking the resulting portion sized lump months or years later and dropping it into boiling water and stirring.

      3. Alistair Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Hipsters discover SlimFast...

        DrX

        Pemmican is a native food product from up north of the 52nd.

        Learned to make it in grade 3 as part of our native studies.

  11. Unep Eurobats

    'the cat’s delivery of a mammalian present'

    Puss thinks it knows what you need. Bless.

    You're probably better off with the Huel.

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: 'the cat’s delivery of a mammalian present'

      The cat, in usual laid back secret overlords of the universe style, was painfully aware of the lack of flavour in huel and so was delivering something more flavoursome (& also packed with lots of nutrients, though fibre levels might be a bit high unless cat did the (fairly common cat behaviour) of "peeling" the vole, mouse , shrew or whatever other small mammal

  12. quattroprorocked

    It use the COOL model (Cook Once Eat Lots) tm Me:-)

    Buy meat, bottle red, various veg. Stock cube.

    Big pot.

    Brown the meat. Bung everything else in.

    Heat to boiling.

    Bung in oven for a few hours medium.

    Allow to cool.

    Eat one portion, divvy the remainder into 8-12 portions, freeze.

    1. Sooty

      Re: It use the COOL model (Cook Once Eat Lots) tm Me:-)

      fry onion and garlic, but don't even bother browning the meat, just dust it in flower and chuck it in raw... It'll hold in the juice and thicken the stew.

      You can usually buy a £1 bag of "seasonal veg" at the supermarket that has nearly everything you need for a 5 litre pot. I recommend a big ceramic lined cast iron jobbie.

      chuck in various things from your cupboard to add flavour, stock cubes, salt pepper, herbs, Worchester sauce, tomato puree etc.

      you don't even need to heat it to boiling, just add wine & stock, & bung in oven for 4 hours.

      costs under a tenner (if you're cooking it for 4 hours, get cheap meat, it's far better for this sort of thing), tastes great and will make a lot of portions.

  13. Sampler

    Something not mentioned strongly enough

    And, this may either be me, or the two week period, but I did Australia's version, Aussielent, and oh my god is it tediously boring.

    Every meal, yeah, vanilla again...

    I tried adding a teaspoon of raw cocoa powder, I tried adding a spoon of metamucil (berry flavour), I tried adding a spoon of each, but ultimately, it's so fricking boring having the same gloop every day.

    My reasoning was I was lactose intolerant (they do a vegan version) and finding a handy lunch that they hadn't snuck dairy in somewhere is troublesome (believe me, it's in everything) and was a little on the cash strapped side so about $4 a meal is pretty good, you're not going to beat that in Sydney, especially being nutritionally sound and all bases covered.

    I ordered a months worth, quite easily the worst month of my life as I felt so down about how miserable and plain every meal was, maybe I'm too much of a foody and look forward to the variety of snacks I can cram in my cake hole, but we didn't get along.

    One plus point though, again, not mentioned in the article, was the reduction in the requirement of pooping. I guess an obvious thing when you think about it, less mass in, less mass out, but it wasn't something that I had thought about before going in. I usually poop around six times a day and I was down to may one every two days and even that sitting was a smaller, yellower dropping - so a fair bit of time saved throughout the day, even if I optimistically peg each motion at five minutes, that's still half hour back in my day and not running the risk of violent explosion, a two second warning that turns me from man to novelty garden fountain that I pray I'm in the house or office as being caught short outdoors is the stuff of nightmares if I'd accidentally consumed dairy.

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: Something not mentioned strongly enough

      One plus point though, again, not mentioned in the article, was the reduction in the requirement of pooping

      Reading the article, I was wondering about that. I don't want to lower the tone (although I'm about to)...a lot of people are talking about how drinking a meal doesn't compare to the joy of eating a good meal, but nobody's mentioning that one of the most underrated pleasures in life is a really good dump.

      On a more serious note, I think that a certain amount of <ahem> end-to-end throughput is good for general health. If whatever you're eating/drinking is so nutritionally efficient that you don't need to put so much out, I'd start to worry about disorders like diverticulitis (spelling probably wrong)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sampler - Something not mentioned strongly enough

      "I usually poop around six times a day"

      Seriously?! I don't think that's right. I'm a once-a-day man, ideally timed so it happens while I'm at work (you'd be amazed how much money I save on bogroll)

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re pooping

        This could be a good foodstuff for music festivals if it reduces visits to chemical toilets.

        Last music festival, most if my calories came from cider, gin and sweet coffee (Aeropress) and I expended a lot of energy.

      2. Sampler

        Re: Sampler - Something not mentioned strongly enough

        @AC

        Wake up, morning poop

        Mid-morning drop off around ten/ten thirty

        Post lunch space maker

        Mid afternoon excursion

        Early evening home welcomer

        Pre-sleep drop off

        A pattern I've more or less followed most of my life, maybe I need more fibre..

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sampler - Something not mentioned strongly enough

        "I usually poop around six times a day"

        Seriously?! I don't think that's right.

        5 times a week is considered medically normal for a human being. 6 times a day is definitely not.

        1. Mycho Silver badge

          Re: Sampler - Something not mentioned strongly enough

          Speaking of pooping too much, I'm reasonably sure Tesco Dandelion and Burdock set me off last week.

          Food intolerances can be as simple as a flavouring. The complication is that if you've got a couple of causes then you need to eliminate both to identify them which means eliminating most things, sorting out a diet you can handle without symptoms then adding things in one by one.

          In fact, a mostly Huel diet would probably be excellent for testing this.

  14. druck
    Unhappy

    Where's the meat

    That's all I can say.

    1. James O'Shea Silver badge

      Re: Where's the meat

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ug75diEyiA0

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Where's the meat

      Didn't you read the article? The cat delivered it.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Food intolerance?

    The symptoms that the author descibed as being reduced when eating Huel, combined with the reaction to the pie, strongly suggest a food intolerance akin to Coeliac disease. Huel is, I believe, marketed as being gluten free, perhaps a test for gluten intolerance would not go amiss? Coeliac disease is now known to be a lot more common, especially amoung those of celtic ancestry, than was previously suspected.

    Note, I am not a doctor.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Food intolerance?

      Also could be a milk/lactose intolerance - I have something to cows milk (goat and sheep milk are fine???) and its amazing how much shit has cows milk or milk protein in. For coeliac it takes a time for the food to get to where it causes problems. Feeling sick straight after the meal points to something else and may indicate that its not eating this shit that is good for him but the not eating of something else. Its worth trying to find out what though it can be difficult as some things you can be intolerant to you can eat once in a while with no reaction and yet two or three days on the trot will - well give you the trots.

      1. PhilBuk

        Re: Food intolerance?

        With Coeliac disease you can have a reaction within 10 minutes. I know.

        Phil.

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: Food intolerance?

          @Philbuk - that's not the coeliac but one of the problems that often arise as a result of the damage coeliac does.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Food intolerance?

        The milk proteins are different in goat and ewe milk. My gut is even more specific : goats cheese is ok, goats yoghurt is not. I recommend Sainsbury's Greek style vegan (coconut based) 'cheese' as an excellent substitute that really is almost as good as real cheese.

        Bear in mind dairy can make other intolerances in the same meal worse, and that it's only a quirk of Western biology that lets it be digested at all. It can take time to work out what can and can't be eaten.

        For me it goes from cream (really bad idea, rapid stomach ache)->milk (very bad idea)->ice cream (bad idea, following day)->cheese (may or may not get away with it if not too much)->butter (probably get away with it, not much is used)->ewes cheese (usually ok, except in large quantities)->goats cheese (almost always ok).

    2. Mycho Silver badge

      Re: Food intolerance?

      Unless the writer paid the extra fiver he didn't get Gluten Free Huel. That said you can be intolerant to just about anything. Many people even live with food intolerances they don't even know about. I figured out most of mine by going on a diet of chicken, peas and carrots and slowly adding things in. Note that it can take around 3 days for symptoms to start, and longer for them to go away.

  16. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Four kilos in a fortnight?

    That's an extreme amount of weight-loss, I feel. Isn't this stuff supposed to provide all you need? It seems somehow lacking...

    1. Synonymous Howard

      Re: Four kilos in a fortnight?

      Lacking in calories rather than vitamins/minerals I guess.

      How to lose weight; eat less calories.

  17. Yugguy

    Feck me, laziness abounds.

    Unless you have some form of illness or disability you CAN cook decent meals cheaply, easily and well. And to claim you can't is just laziness.

    Spent an hour this weekend making some fantastic home made soups, which were basically water, seasoning, herbs, chicken stock (cubes) and a lot of chopped veg. Froze it in lunch-sized batches.

    Add a bit of bread and some meat/cheese/vegan protein and you have a tasty lunch.

    When we make mash we always make double or triple as the effort is basicaly the same.. Then freeze the rest in portions. Previously-frozen mash makes the creamiest mash as the freezing destroys lumps. Next time you need mash you do not need to cook it.

    I make a pasta sauce from herbs, garlic, onion and canned tomatoes, fry off the onions, garlic, add herbs and seasoning, then the tomatos. Whizz it if you like it smooth. Freeze in batches. Defrost it, heat it up, add pasta and some grated cheese. YUM.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Feck me, laziness abounds.

      >Unless you have some form of illness or disability you CAN cook decent meals cheaply, easily and well.

      You also need a pan, a heat sorce and a knife... in other words, a kitchen. So not always practical at work. And an illness is exactly what the article author has.

      But yeah, I'm in agreement with the rest of your post, soups are easy, tasty and healthy, add some nuts or eggs.... lovely. What is good about your frozen mash plan is that you can make the portions quite small - because your body doesn't really need carbs in the evening. Okay, it depends upon how active you plan to be that night ;)

      1. Yugguy

        Re: Feck me, laziness abounds.

        "And an illness is exactly what the article author has."

        Apologies, I missed that completely.

        Trouble is cooking is a lost art. Cheffing is all the rage and there are many cheffing programmes on TV and books on shelves but where is the teaching of easy, basic, tasty stuff?

    2. Mycho Silver badge

      Re: Feck me, laziness abounds.

      Why are you surprised that laziness abounds? You're saying this on the internet, one of the great labour-saving tools of the modern world. You can literally check the weather outside your own front door without walking to the window and so you have the energy left to rant about other people's dining choices instead.

  18. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

    expensive and only moderate shelf life

    apparently this stuff is even MORE expensive via Amazon US. The price is $69 for 21 meals which, at today's exchange rate, works out to £2.68/meal. Granted that cost DOES include delivery.

    If this product had a reasonably long shelf life (2-4 years) then it would make a very good emergency/survival/disaster ration. Unfortunately, according to their website, the shelf life when stored properly is only one year. And speaking of "stored properly", I find it curious to note that the packaging calls for it to be kept in a "dry and dark place." I completely understand dry but why dark? It's in an opaque foil bag.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: expensive and only moderate shelf life

      Probably because of the foil bag; most of the materials used for stuff like that age faster (i.e. get brittle/porous) from the UV in the light. You can add other stuff to the foil to countermand this, but that's usually stuff you don't want near your food in larger quantities.

      Dry, dark and not too warm is the way to go for storing almost anything.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It can see its uses

    I occasionally have to work for a week at a time in a semi-desert region more that 80km from the nearest shop. Up to now I carry dozens of cans of food (plus some veg and fruit that will be edible after a week) but with Huel I need not.

    (FYI there is borehole and a reverse osmosis system to make drinkable water)

    People travelling to other remote places would find Huel useful.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Reverse Osmosis

      Intersting and curious - Bad water in the borehole or recycling urine?

      1. Lotaresco Silver badge

        Re: Reverse Osmosis

        "Bad water in the borehole "

        It depends which near-desert is being discussed. Across much of the American desert and badlands the water from boreholes will kill you sooner or later. Arsenic contamination is common in these regions at a level that doesn't kill but does cause cancer. The water can also be briny or just have an awful taste. RO water is better but may need the addition of minerals, especially iodine.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Reverse Osmosis

          @Lotaresco

          It is very briny.

  20. Chozo
    Coat

    Miracle Marketing Required

    My chemistry is a little oxidised but doesn't the extraction of protein from peas & rice use some rather nasty cancer causing solvents? Anyhow I suppose it must be OK as the ingredients for Huel are remarkably similar to those of the pig feed.

  21. This post has been deleted by its author

  22. Bob Rocket

    Gravy

    Why vanilla ? I eat almost no vanilla flavoured food on a yearly basis.

    If this gunk is nutritionally complete then a gravy flavoured version would be ideal for pouring over Chips'n'Cheese, Bangers'n'Mash and Butter Pie'n' Peas.

    A tomato version for pouring over pasta and a korma/tikka flavour for rice would be brilliant.

    1. Mycho Silver badge

      Re: Gravy

      There is an unflavored version. From the sounds of it, it tastes like antacids. Still, I expect my sampler in a few days and will be trying it with something flavored. Tikka Huel's not a bad idea.

      1. Bob Rocket

        Re: Gravy - Pot Noodle

        I wonder if you could use one of those 'flavouring' sachets from a Pot Noodle, in fact if you replaced the thickening powder with Huel you would have created

        a Nutritionally Complete Pot Noodle

        which by any standard would certainly be a modern era Wonder of the World.

        1. Mycho Silver badge

          Re: Gravy - Pot Noodle

          Huel now sell flavour pouches, though from the forum they're a work in progress. People seem to like the strawberry one though.

  23. Andus McCoatover
    Windows

    Huel? Gruel?

    Fanny Craddock would be spinning in her blender...

    Mind you, less than a fiver/day to lose some weight has gotta be cheaper than those tupperware-party-promoted crap products that come out of the Good Ol' US of A, methinks.

    Maybe I'll give it a whirl - I'm 8Kg overweight, after all.

  24. Alistair Silver badge
    Windows

    Yeesh.

    1) I *personally* LOVE to cook. When I'm in the right mood, have time and don't have to worry about scheduling. Cooking can go off the rails with me sometimes. Its why when I schedule a bash where I'm going to be doing the meal for those that are coming I make it an all evening thing.

    (for the record, I apparently can eat until both the cows and the sheep come home, and my weight fluctuation is about 11 pounds. My Doctor (after 13 years) keeps telling me he wants my metabolism as my weight for my physicals has remained within a 5 pound range, and I'm NOT particularly physically active.)

    2) My SO despises the art of cooking. Most likely since her background was bland, formula, meat veg and starch meals with almost no real flavour, and when she does try our offspring are less than supportive of the results.

    3) *FOOD* is many many many different things. I've tried crickets, worms, monkey brain, termites and a few other things that the standard "western diet" that the *complete* list of commentators likely eat will never include. Don't throw something in the bin just because you don't like the concept.

    4) The article makes it clear to me that the author is not well. If that were *just* diet this product would at least lead the author in the direction of 'better diet' apparently. I myself have had massive periods of (sometimes months long) internalized depression that may or may not be related to season, diet, and work/life balance. But I manage to hide it a little too well. The author may not be able to hide it. Thus I have to let the 'lazy/lackadaisical/malnourished/obese' author manage to put out something worth reading in his own fashion. (I will allow the obtuse to select their own insulting term from the list, one will note that the sentence would survive without the insult)

    All that said. Good on ya mate, go for some more walks (you have a cat, but dogs are better for walks), and consider either keeping that stuff in the cupboard for when ya need it, or hammering back some killer vitamins. (I KNOW what that will produce in rants, but #$% it, the Costco version of Centrum Silver rocks my world these days, two a day for 2 months pulled me out of a TERRIBLE mental and physical funk and made tackling things seem so much easier). Now I just need to get the SO out the door and moving more often and we'll soon both be better off.

    As for the Gluten/Lactose/blah intolerance crap.

    GO TO A DOCTOR. Don't assume just because you remove something that its true. Its a simple set of tests, although you DO have to *participate* in the tests so expect to have to WORK for your *snowflakieness* ( of 25 people in my life that have been sent off for that gluten test, only ONE has had celiac. The snowflakes however have made her life better by ensuring that there were more product on the shelf, even if it costs 3 times as much)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yeesh.

      As the author of the article - apologies for replying as an Anonymous Coward - I had it in mind that I wasn't going to reply to any comments as it can be a slippery slope of bleakness and regret but I liked your response a lot and wanted to chip in some words in return. There'll be a bit of overlaps with points from other comments, so I apologise.

      I also love to cook and wish I had the energy to cook fresh meals daily. Unfortunately, the health problems that left me disabled make day-to-day life feel like having flu. Preparing a cup of tea can be hard enough work at times, never mind cooking.

      My problems are indeed not just diet. Someone else mentioned that because this is marketed as being gluten free I may be a coeliac, however I have not been having the gluten-free version of the product. I see my GP every fortnight and my specialist every six weeks, so just about every possible avenue has been probed, prodded and investigated. I know two genuine coeliacs and, as you say, they are thankful for the special snowflakes for the in-flux of GF food now available all over the place!

      The beautiful irony of consuming Huel and the accompanying - but not solely related-to - surge in my health-situation, is that I have been better equipped (energy wise) to prepare proper meals in the evening. I've made myself a roast dinner, a delicious fish pie (with fresh fish from the fishmonger that comes to the house) with enough portions to freeze several more and various soups and stews. So, not only have I been eating (well, consuming) more goodness during Heal-meals I am also eating better with food I have prepared myself. I consider it a win-win.

      Believe it or not the cat does actually enjoy accompanying me on walks in to the woodland beside my house. Sadly this has been limited to distances of 2-300 metres on a good day for a very long time but, again on a good day, this distance has been climbing. I love nature and watching the stars, so rest assured that I will indeed be taking as many walks as my legs can handle; regardless of how short they may be relative to 'the norms'.

      As for the dubious nature of the sudden and rapid weight loss mentioned by others; my GP thinks this is likely down to a marked reduction in fluid retention and a clearing-out of my bowels (I have had IBS for years) combined with the loss of actual fat.

      The weight loss has now stabilised at a much-slower level, with total loss at about the 4.5kg mark after four weeks. 500g was the loss in the previous week, even despite (albeit fairly restrained) Yuletide gorging.

      Anyway, all the best and thanks for the compelling reply.

      1. Custard Fridge

        Re: Yeesh.

        I ordered some on the strength of the article and tried it this morning for breakfast.

        Having never had anything like it before I was impressed, although it will take more mixing.

        I am trying it out to see if it stops me snacking whilst my job winds-down to a finish in a few weeks.

        I am also trying it as I am lactose intolerant and it makes a change frankly.

        Oh, and just because it says mix it with water won't stop me mixing it with Oat milk, or almond milk, or whatever I am trying that isn't cow or soya.

        But will it reduce my snacking? Time will tell.

        Thanks for the article - it must have taken a level of bravery to publish.

        Oh, and as for the person pooing six times a day - there is something wrong - go to a doctor! Cripes!

  25. Chris Gray 1
    Go

    non-cooker

    To those who insist that we should all be cooking our own meals: I am physically quite able to cook up anything desired. I also have a full kitchen at my disposal. I simply do not enjoy, at all, cooking for myself. That is *not* going to change. Also, when you live by yourself, buying and keeping good fresh food is difficult - you need to fuss with quite small amounts. I average two meals out per week, and otherwise manage to eat fairly healthy on uncooked and prepared food.

    But, if you are going to do this, getting decent excercise regularly is *very* important!

  26. h4rm0ny

    I believe it can be good and balanced...

    But my question is what is the nutritional gap between this and say, a bowl of porridge and an apple?

  27. Kaltern Silver badge

    I fail to see why people are so worked up about this... it doesn't affect YOUR life, so why belittle the product, and the people who use it (I did it too Gorman...)?

  28. ChaosFreak
    Unhappy

    Awesome! Can we order it in the colonies?

    I just tried looking it up on Amazon here in the US and it doesn't seem to be for sale here yet...

  29. Kaltern Silver badge

    You know what? I just tried the small sample pack, and I'm strangely impressed.

    I'm not a huge fan mixing it with water, but I tried that first. Taste and texture is certainly something to work on, perhaps using milk, or even baking with it into biscuits and pancakes are possibilities.

    What I'm most impressed with tho, is the feeling of fullness after just 50g of the stuff (about 270kcal), which I totally didn't expect. I have.. issues with food, and I often find myself feeling hungry after eating. I'm not getting that with this stuff, and that's just an odd feeling.

    Not sure if I'm totally convinced to go full Matrix yet, but I AM trying to lose weight, and I DON'T eat enough (see: none) veg, and this IS cost effective... I dunno. We'll see.

  30. Lostintranslation

    HUEL, a curious mux of the words FUEL and HURL

  31. RosieRedfield

    Losing 3.8 kg in 2 weeks is not good nutrition

    This is an alarming rate of weight loss, equivalent to what one might expect to see with a severely calorie-restricted diet.

    You may be getting enough vitamins and protein, but you're probably only getting only about half of the calories you would normally consume. If you're fat this is probably OK for a little while, but it's certainly not sustainable, especially for anyone who isn't overweight.

  32. Far out man
    Thumb Down

    Helpful, thanks

    As someone else with health issues this was helpful. I have tried Huel on the back of this and it works for me.

    It seems odd that after all the years some of the regulars still find it difficult to RTFA.

  33. dave 81

    Tried huel as a breakfast.

    I don't have an appetite for about an hour after I wake, combined with 2 kids and the morning rush to get them ready for school, so by the time I get to work, I am hungry, with only junk around for the vending machines. So I tried Huel off the back of this. Managed to find 2 minutes to dump water and powder into the blender take it to work with me. Not always a pleasant meal, but it fills me till lunch.

    However, after 2 months of weekday Huel breakfasts, I have to report that I am feeling much healthier, more alert, and my old friend morning glory has returned after disappearing at when a hectic family life became the norm. Co-incidence perhaps.

    I think that will be continuing with it.

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