Since Soylent broke open the “meal-replacement” space with a grand (some might say grandiose) vision to hack food and end hunger, a few startups have created their own take on the futuristic meal shake.
The idea is that, when you don’t have time to make lunch, you simply drink a ~400-calorie shake with precisely measured ingredients that will get you to your next meal.
The latest entrant is Ample Meal, which is coming after Soylent by promising a non-GMO, gluten-free product that has less sugar (2 grams to 7 grams) and carbohydrates (26 grams to 37 grams), but more protein (27 grams to 20 grams). The startup has raised around $100,000 on Indiegogo so far.
While fitness enthusiasts can debate the finer points of the nutritional elements, the main things many everyday users will care about are price and taste. How does Ample stack up? On taste, it is certainly as good as Soylent, and some might prefer its pleasant nutty flavour (it is not nut-free like Soylent). But on price, it’s not a bargain. Ample will run about $4.50 per meal, though it ranges based on how much you commit, while Soylent is more in the $2.50 range.
But Ample isn’t competing on price, but on the idea of healthy living. “I see so many people feel challenged to incorporate healthy meals into their busy lives or even understand what is ‘healthy,'” CEO Connor Young said in a statement.
Here’s what it’s like to try Ample:
Photography by Hollis Johnson.
The shake contains ingredients like probiotics, chia seed, algae oil, macadamia nut oil (which you can definitely taste), sweet potato, pumpkin, cacao powder, and wheat grass.
One design flaw is that it takes a bit of work to shake out the bottle. Some dry areas get stuck on the bottom.
But it actually tastes pretty good, a nutty, sweet flavour that's a bit surprising given the low level of sugar. One of my colleagues said it was better than Soylent's original formula, and about in-line with its second. I personally liked the flavour better than Soylent.
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