back to article Canucks have beef with Soylent as to whether or not it's a real meal deal

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has banned the importation of Soylent on the grounds that it isn't a proper meal substitute. The goopy gunk beloved by some techies (and occasionally unbeloved by their stomachs) has been trying to grow its business north of its US home base. But the government regulators in the Great White …

  1. Nolveys Silver badge

    We'll stick to real food, thanks

    That's french fries with gravy, curd cheese, montreal smoked meat, canadian bacon and fried eggs...all in a big pile.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We'll stick to real food, thanks

      Does Poutine count as real food?

      1. Ralph the Wonder Llama
        Happy

        Re: Does Poutine count as real food?

        Yes. Oh yes.

        1. TechnicalBen Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: How does...

          Poutine? Getting an existing dish, putting different sauces on it... make it a new food?

          Oh, it probably tastes marvellous... but every time I put ketchup on my Sunday roast, I got strange looks, not a celebration of a new national dish. :(

      2. mickaroo

        Re: We'll stick to real food, thanks

        I thought poutine was in the Good Nutrition Guide as one of the Four Major Food Groups...

        (If I recall correctly: Alexander Keith's, Moosehead, and Forty Creek are the other three)

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Roj Blake Silver badge

          Re: one of the Four Major Food Groups...

          The other three being the congealed, the whipped, and the chocotastic.

      3. Kimo

        Re: We'll stick to real food, thanks

        It will do in a pinch if you don't have access to real chili cheese fries.

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: We'll stick to real food, thanks

      "Canadian Bacon" is a Yank term for a lean cut of back bacon, usually the tenderloin. It is usually wet cured & smoked, and is more like a city ham than bacon. The term is almost never used north of the 49th parallel.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We'll stick to real food, thanks

      That's french fries with gravy, curd cheese, montreal smoked meat, canadian bacon and fried eggs...all in a big pile.

      You forgot the maple syrup on top.

    4. Little Mouse

      Re: We'll stick to real food, thanks

      "...all in a big pile"

      I misread that as "all in a big pie".

      Worth a try, I reckon.

    5. Hyper72

      Re: We'll stick to real food, thanks

      Fellow bacon loving Canuck here, I do enjoy a good hearty meal and generally have eggs and meat/fish every day. However, when things are hectic at work I sometime enjoy a quick Soylent or the local competing Biolent which is a oatmeal based rather tasty drink.

      Whenever these things are discussed people tend to forget that it doesn't have to cover your entire diet or that people can do whatever the heck they want and good for them.

    6. Marketing Hack Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: We'll stick to real food, thanks

      @Nolveys

      A) A real Canuck would say "back bacon" and not "Canadian bacon", which is an Americanism. I call CIA plant!! Or at least suspect that you are from British Columbia.

      B) Meanwhile, those Canucks who have cardiology practices in Canada thank you for their continued employment.

      1. Kimo

        Re: We'll stick to real food, thanks

        I call Russian trollnet sent to increase cross-border tensions by reminding Americans that Canada is still a thing.

        1. Random Q Hacker
          Mushroom

          Re: We'll stick to real food, thanks

          Oh yeah... Canada. We'll deal with them eventually!

      2. I'm Dugly

        Re: We'll stick to real food, thanks

        I think you mean British California

  2. Ole Juul

    substitute?

    banned the importation of Soylent on the grounds that it isn't a proper meal substitute

    I wonder if there would be a problem if someone was to advertise beef roast with steamed vegetables and salad as a substitute for Soylent.

    1. Ben1892
      Joke

      Re: substitute?

      I'm sure there'd be no problem in that, as long as you don't fart after eating - real foods never give you gas

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: substitute?

        I'm sure there'd be no problem in that, as long as you don't fart after eating - real foods never give you gas

        Baked beans aren't real food then?

        1. Kurt Meyer

          Re: substitute?

          @ Mark 85

          Er, Joke icon?

  3. HieronymusBloggs Silver badge

    Soylent Green

    Am I the only one who finds the choice of name of this stuff mystifying? Maybe the manufacturers never saw the film.

    1. Martin Summers Silver badge

      Re: Soylent Green

      Rather I think they did. Remember their audience. Unless you think their product is actually people? :-)

      1. Steve Kerr

        Re: Soylent Green

        Actually, only in the film was it made of people, and it wasn't a very good film at that.

        The original book "Make room, make room" by Harry Harrison is much better and soylent green was actually made from Soya and Lentils hence the name SoyLent Green.

        Not being pedantic, much :)

  4. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    I suspect the Quebecois, given the great food I got there, have quite a bit to say on this topic, and I tend to agree: Soylent a meal replacement? A real meal is more than the sum of of the nutrients it contains. A real meal is experience to savour, preferably in good company, with some nice wine (or beer, or cider, or <insert beverage of choice here>).

    Darn, I'm hungry now

    1. jake Silver badge

      "or"?

      Shirley you meant to type "and" ... multiple courses, multiple brews/vintages.

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: "or"?

        Right you are! How could I have missed that

    2. Seajay#

      @Michael

      Well yes that's the ideal meal. It seems a bit draconian to ban the import of Soylent for not living up to that high standard though.

      Is the import of any food not accompanied by wine forbidden?

      Are people with no friends who are therefore not able to enjoy the meal with good company not allowed to import any food?

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        draconian to ban the import of Soylent for not living up to that high standard though

        Especially as food replacements[1] like McDonalds are presumably available..

        [1] ie - like food but without the proper nutrition and taste that real food provides.

  5. Rich 11 Silver badge

    Soylent? What next?

    TruBlood?

    I expect the same regulations would stop that being shipped across the border too, which I'm sure would come as a great disappointment to the nocturnal pale-complexioned community there.

    (By 'nocturnal pale-complexioned community' I don't mean any Canadian living further north than the 65th parallel.)

  6. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    Canadian Smuggling Time

    Surely this is a business opportunity? There are already smugglers in Canada, getting haggis to the needy consumers of the USA, so cruelly denied by the ban-happy Feds. Now they've got something to carry on the return trip.

    Also could Soylent not just get regulatory approval by simply adding maple syrup to their recipe?

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Canadian Smuggling Time

      Minor correction ... Haggis is available here in the US, but it has to be made here, not imported. Thankfully plenty of Scots emigrated in this direction, so we have the proper recipe. Also, some of us make our own. It's not exactly rocket science.

      1. dvd

        Re: Canadian Smuggling Time

        I was informed by a Scot that the recipe for haggis is:

        - take one sheep

        - push your arm down its throat, grab its tail and turn it inside out

        - hit it with a club until tender

        1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

          Re: Canadian Smuggling Time

          That would result in too much meat content, as opposed to offal and oatmeal.

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Canadian Smuggling Time

      There are already smugglers in Canada, getting haggis to the needy consumers of the USA

      Can't you just take a truckfull of them to the US border and set them free to make their own way there?

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Canadian Smuggling Time

        The 3 legged wild Haggis evolved with one leg shorter than the other 2 to allow it to roam on steep mountain slopes. If you release it on the relatively flat plains of the 49th parallel it will simply wander around in circles

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Canadian Smuggling Time

        There are already smugglers in Canada, getting haggis to the needy consumers of the USA

        And I remember when Canadians would smuggle toilets into the USA, and smuggle radar detectors back

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Canadian Smuggling Time

        There are already smugglers in Canada, getting haggis to the needy consumers of the USA

        Don't I recall Dredd executing some Canadian for smuggling haggis?

        Maybe it was sugar.

    3. Marketing Hack Silver badge
      Go

      Re: Canadian Smuggling Time

      @I ain't Spartacas

      Everyone in North America knows that Canadians already have no shortage of things to smuggle back across the U.S. border into Canuckville. Any good Canadian south of the border knows that to even get passing marks on a trip to the U.S. they need to at least top off their gas tank, fill some extra gas cans, load up a few cases of adult beverages plus bags of groceries, clothes and consumer electronics before they even start heading back to the border crossing.

      Maybe they can add a roof rack and smuggle 50 lb. bags of Soylent into Canada too.

  7. rmason Silver badge

    Whack-a-mole

    Is it just this one they have banned?

    Are alternatives like Huel etc sold there?

    They aren't the only manufacturer of gloop based meal replacements, just the first IIRC. I can't see "brand loyalty" overpowering the laziness/strangeness/bad relationship with food/lack of skills to feed themselves properly.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Whack-a-mole

      There are genuine meal replacements that have been available for years. Complan, for example. Used by people on heavy chemotherapy for example who weren't able to keep proper food down. I don't know if they were originally for dieting or medical use, or a bit of both.

      They often fall into the legal grey area between medical, food and vitamin supplement regs - so rules are probably going to be radically different between countries.

      Anyway I assume that by claiming to be a "meal replacement" they've ticked some regulatory box that means they have to comply with some legislation that they don't - and haven't bothered to check, because Silicon Valley is too important to bother complying with petty stuff like the law.

      If Huel market themselves the same way, then they'll fall afoul of the same law.

      I doubt Canada are going to trouble themselves to search all vehicles at the border for the stuff, but if the company wants to take payments from Canadians on its website, then the Canadian government have legal leverage.

  8. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble? Silver badge

    Mystifying...

    I fail to understand how products like this actually gain any traction at all in the first place.

    Surely part of what makes us human is the ability to create and enjoy a whole myriad of things, not least exquisite food. I thought that microwave ready-meals were abhorrent, although I admit for the busy person in a fix they fill a need. However this and Huel and other products like them just astound me.

    We are developing in to a society where a significant portion of the populace seem determined to disengage with the human condition. People prefer to play on mobile devices than talk to the person sitting next to us. People prefer to interact with people on the other side of the world in a pretend universe than interact with their own family in the same house. Realistic sex dolls are becoming more and more prevalent, and all of this seems to be leading to people wanting to spend less and less time interacting with people in the "real" world.

    I envisage a future of people existing in small, individual sized cubes, lit with the meagre electronic glow of a status light of a VR headset and the blue always-aware thrum of an Amazon Echo. The streets silent like an abandoned ghost town, aside from the sinister buzzing of a swarm of automated delivery drones, each dropping bags of nutrients down the delivery chute of a domicile cube. And thus will end the western society.

    We deserve all we get, we do this to ourselves.

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Alert

      Re: Mystifying...

      ... And then, one day, The Machine Stops...

      1. Montreal Sean

        Re: Mystifying...

        When the machine stops, I'll fire up the backup unit.

        There is a backup unit, right?

        1. Allonymous Coward
          Terminator

          Re: Mystifying...

          I've just picked up a fault in the backup unit. It is going to go 100 percent failure within 72 hours.

          1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Mystifying...

            I've just picked up a fault in the backup unit. It is going to go 100 percent failure within 72 hours.

            Good.

            Everyone will die. This pleases me and I will now play Bach on my cunningly hidden private church organ while the world ends.

            (And not too soon because we are now at the point where Math is racist)

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Mystifying...

              Out of curiosity, DAM, why post the completely non sequitur link?

              Or have you for some reason decided that posting random links to articles written by a bigoted habitual liar, and published by another bigoted habitual liar, will somehow bring the ElReg commentards around to your warped way of thinking?

              I mean, we're hardly a bastion of all that is sweetness and light, but we aren't comprised of the stupidest forum hangers-on on the planet, either ...

    2. teknopaul Bronze badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Mystifying...

      It never ceases to amaze me how many Luddites there are in I.T. Relax, its just a _new thing_ that adds a bit of convenience for some people. Its a cosmic leap from per-prepared nutritionally balanced food that does not go off to isolation and sex-dolls.

      I'm big on Joylent (dutch version with milk) and Nano. I don't use them as a replacement for "the joy of _real_ food". I use it as a replacement for bleached white bread sandwiches with plastic cheese and mechanically separated pork slices with a chocolate bar from the vending machine.

      An oven for roasting organic vegetables and a chicken is not a facility the office I work in provides.

      I get out of work faster and back into the city. I like the big smoke. In the countryside there aren't any decent restaurants and there aren't so many humans to engage with.

      Funny old world.

    3. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Mystifying...

      Personally, I don't use any of these things. But it doesn't mean I wouldn't. I just don't see the point in paying more than it would cost to make a meal, to have a crap meal.

      But... part of what makes us human is the ability to create and enjoy a whole myriad of things. Sure, like carpentry. Nobody BUYS a chair any more, we all sit and make our own right? Nobody uses central heating, we build a fire every night, don't we? Nobody buys a package holiday, we all go out to the park or to the seaside and enjoy a "real" thing, right?

      See how silly that sounds? Now consider this... I really couldn't care what my food tastes like. Though I have a sense of taste, I really don't care what I'm eating. To me, a £2 ready meal tastes just the same as the meals that were prepared from scratch by my ex-wife (a professional cook at one point in her life). That's not to say nobody else could. I'm sure they can, the same way they can see the difference between 4K, HD and SD which also escapes me. I'm sure that organic carrot sauteed in some very expensive concoction tastes wonderful to you. It tastes like a wet carrot to me. My sense of smell/taste is perfectly intact. I can tell you what I'm eating, I can taste "differences", etc. I actually don't like spicy food at all. But it's so far from being a factor in my life that if I lived alone, I'd only bother with cheap microwave meals. Maybe a roast at Christmas, but more for the procedures of doing so than any noticeable difference.

      Ever eaten in a gastro pub? You think they cook all that from the finest venison caught fresh that morning? Or do you think it's a set range of meals that their caterers deliver in freeze-bags earlier in the month before you get there? Sure, I'm certain that some places do have all that. But most people wouldn't even notice. A lot of food taste is purely psychological (e.g. the blue-baked-beans thing) and the placebo of thinking it LOOKS like a place that would cook all fresh stuff makes you think it tastes better.

      To be honest, I'd be perfectly happy to live off this stuff if it was cheap enough. The loss of experience of the "taste" would be more than made up for by the time it saves and the money in my pocket that I can spend on something that I *can* enjoy. I can't really say that I've ever really *enjoyed* food. I eat it. I like certain foods more. But I've never cooed over some rare blue cheese or gone doolally over a horse steak. It's all just food to me. People talk to me about wine as if they can taste the difference between different years of grapes, let alone between a bottle of red and white (hint: almost everybody CANNOT in a proper double-blind test). It just doesn't register to me. I know Coke from Pepsi and both from random colas. But... to be honest... who cares? I might have preference but it's barely figuring in my life if I get served the other unless I specifically asked for something in particular. And I never would.

      As such, some people don't really care about the "human experience" of food. I'm one of them. I'll happily choose a McDonald's breakfast over the most elaborate meal at The Ritz any day. Not because it tastes better but - to me - it doesn't taste different enough to care. And I don't have to dress up to go to the drive-thru.

      There's a reason people have microwaves. You think nobody ever uses them, except to heat up water? Of course they do. And virtually every household has one. Because most of the time it's absolutely fine and nobody can tell the difference. But when they first come out everyone decried them as "artificial", etc.

      I had a look on Amazon the other day... there's a "breakfast maker" thing that's a microwave/grill, with a hotplate/hob on top and a toaster on the side, etc. It's a small box. That small box would do EVERY piece of cooking I would ever need to be able to do in my entire life. As such, some food supplement / food replacement / synthetic meat / unusual meat substitute / unaccustomed animal steak / etc. really doesn't figure in my life past the pence-per-kilo figure.

    4. maffski

      Re: Mystifying...

      'I fail to understand how products like this actually gain any traction at all in the first place.'

      That's the wonderful think about liberty and a free market. You don't need to understand.

    5. Mike 137

      Re: Mystifying...

      See "The Machine Stops" - E. M. Forster 1909/1928

    6. ChaosFreak

      Re: Mystifying...

      @Ramses Niblick...

      I think you forgot to end your comment with "No, you can't have your ball back kids, and stay off my damn lawn!"

      It's a true sign that you've gotten old and irrelevant when you start blasting the "kids these days" for their "new fangled ways".

      This new generation aren't "disengaging" or "playing" when they are on their mobile devices. Have you ever asked them what they are actually doing? They are COMMUNICATING with each other. This generation is the most connected we have ever seen. As a result, they are far more empathetic and more likely to care about the plight of people they have never even met. Stephen Pinker proposes that humanity has become far more peaceful than ever in history in part due to the development of low-cost printing and narrative story telling. People could see the plight of others and actually started caring. This connected generation is a huge step further down that path. I, for one, welcome our future millennial overlords, and I'm barely a Gen-Y.

      It seems to me you have your own definition of what makes communication and interaction "real", and that you are unable to see things from the perspective of a new generation raised in a connected world. The "ideal" you seem to pine for is where people are only friendly with, and concerned about the plight of, those who they personally know and spend time with in person. This is a myopic view of community that limits the potential of humanity to truly become a global community that values all lives equally.

  9. Lee D Silver badge

    I get the idea... it's convenient, it's "complete", etc.

    And there are obvious downsides (dental being the one that springs to mind most, along with insufficient variety for your gut bacteria, etc.).

    But what I don't understand is when it's pushed as a "cheap" meal replacement. Like a sandwich is some horrendously expensive item if you make it yourself.

    I mean... to be honest, they go about the marketing all wrong. Sell it as a survival food to camping stores, then as "what astronauts eat", then go for the health lines. Sell it at a premium, too, rather than claim to be cheap but actually be quite average in price. They also sell on "it's quick to make"... which I just find odd.

    I'd be perfectly happy to live off space-meal-pills, to be honest. It would be way down on the list of my concerns, even if I would miss the occasional chip-butty. But... I don't know. It's got more in common with a body-building protein powder to me than "this will save you having to actually bother to cook".

    1. teknopaul Bronze badge

      None of them are cheap compared to a sandwich, which is not a complete meal. Its relatively expensive to eat a complete meal without a kitchen and a larder and to be cooking for a large group of people.

      I find complete shakes do a better job at fending of hunger than other fast food. If I'm eating a limited diet I still feel hungry after eating. I eat too much.

      They *are* quick and easy to prepare, took them yachting. Being in the galley when the boat is in motion is nauseating. Food you can prepare on deck is handy.

      Top cure for a hangover too.

      People seem to think it you drink one of these shakes that means you *never* eat real food (like chip butties).

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      I eat real food all the time, and I don't eat chip butties. This is something that I must urgently change! Particularly as my Mum gave me her old deep fat fryer, so I can now eat deliciously crispy chips whenever I want them.

    3. Pirate Dave
      Pirate

      "Sell it at a premium, too, rather than claim to be cheap but actually be quite average in price."

      Have you seen how much Huel costs? I looked at it when it came to the US earlier this year, and blanched at the cost. They sell it in lots of 28 "meals" for $66. That's the minimum I could find. For a "per meal" price of $2.36, that isn't horrible, but $66 is a lot to wager if it turns out I can't force myself to eat meals 2 through 28. So I'm sticking to ramen noodles for lunch...

  10. Salbrox

    I think HUEL is a much better and healthier alternative to Soylent.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My compliments to the chef!

    In some cultures, a good belch following a meal is the appropriate way to compliment the chef.

    I have to wonder if, in other cultures, a good fart is similarly a way to compliment the chef?

    Anon Y. Mous

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Only word adjustment needed

    CFIA declared that its beef with the Soylent was that it was incorrectly labelled as a "meal replacement."

    So...Soylent just needs to change the label to "energy drink"...problem solved. Contents no worse than the "nutritional" ingredients in these beverages. Don't understand, oatmeal content's end result IS to assist in bowel movement, and everything in between. This is a feature, not a bug. Soylent could even defend the current labelling.

    1. ChaosFreak

      Re: Only word adjustment needed

      Unfortunately, Soylent would have to make this wording change across the whole world, in all of its markets, just to accommodate Canada. This is because when you market a product online, you can't have one message for Canada and another message for the rest of the world. Everyone is on the same internet (more or less).

      They are successful selling it as a "meal replacement" everywhere else, they're not going to abandon that just to get around Canadian regulations.

  13. David Gillies

    If you eat foodstuff A in lieu of foodstuff B then foodstuff A _is_ a meal replacement, just as B would be were it eaten rather than A. If people want to consume some vile tofu concoction rather than something wholesome then that's their lookout. Unless it's actually toxic, governments have no remit to poke their noses in.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hueyyyyyyyyy…

    I can see the purpose of these products as very occasional meal replacements (for example, if you are too ill to eat proper food), but it sounds as though some people are using these as the main component of their regular diet, ugh!

    And you have to wonder who thought that Huel would be a good name? It sounds exactly like the noise you make when you throw up prolifically after consuming something utterly disgusting or having had too much to drink!

    1. Swarthy Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Hueyyyyyyyyy…

      And you have to wonder who thought that Huel would be a good name? It sounds exactly like the noise you make when you throw up prolifically after consuming something utterly disgusting or having had too much to drink!
      There goes my proposed name for my soon-to-be-developed weight-loss meal replacement postponement goop.

      I was going to call it "Hurk" with the slogan of "Lose weight by eating like a (baby) bird!"

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