It isn’t every day that an email arrives promising to destroy my life.
But on Tuesday, it happened. The email promised I would “no longer need to spend time and energy meal planning, cooking, washing up… eating…”
No more washing up? That’s fine. But as I spend far too many waking hours planning what to eat, then cooking and eating it, the news sent chills down my spine. What of the pasta, the rib-eyes, the cheese? What of the bacon?
All of it gone. In its place, a powder called ‘Huel’, which has just arrived in the UK. You blend it up with water and drink it instead of eating food. It claims to be the first of its kind, ever.
There may be a reason for that. But give it a chance. According to the email, Huel is made “from a blend of protein, carbs and fats alongside a specific vitamin blend which provides 100% of the government’s recommended daily intake, removing the need to eat food.”
It’s not a description that immediately makes the mouth water, but contrary to its unedifying beige appearance and strictly monochrome packaging, Huel isn’t a chemically generated legal high for foodies, but a “real food” powder, made up of rice, peas, oats, flaxseed, coconut and vitamins.
You will have noticed the absence of anything meaty, or interesting, but the team behind Huel are apparently “keen to ensure the product can be consumed by anybody”. So Huel contains “no dairy, animal products, soy, eggs or added sugar, and has a shelf life of over a year.”
No doubt you are clamouring to order a great big stash, and the good news is that Huel is reasonably priced. A daily supply costs around £6.50, equating to £45 per week. And if you’re still in doubt about swapping a lifetime of food for a lifetime of three brown milks a day, you can go to the Huel website and watch a video all about it, which starts with a man doing a mid-air somersault (I’m going to assume he lives off Huel) swiftly followed by a fat man with sad eyes joylessly eating a chicken burger.
Then it gets a bit weird. Footage of a stir fry made with freshly chopped vegetables is followed by a woman at her desk at work, head in hands. She doesn’t have time to make a stir fry, you see. Just the thought does her head in. Then Huel founder Julian Hearn pops up to explain that what she really needs is Huel, while healthy looking people jog about swigging from Huel branded bottles (available from the website for a fiver). It gets stranger still (Huel is the answer to the future of civilisation or something) but I was forced to stop watching to eat a Twix.
Perhaps this product isn’t aimed at me. I like one word foods like pizza, chocolate and sandwich. But a good friend of mine once told me that as far as he was concerned, food was nothing more than fuel. We haven’t spoken since, but this product is probably aimed at him. The very name is a combination of Human and Fuel. And he won’t be the only one; human beings have an astonishing capacity for faddy diets. But enough speculation – products like these have been mooted since the 1960s when pills were going to replace food. Is it realistic to live off them? The only way to find out is to put Huel to the test.
The swish Grocer offices are no place to conduct such a cruel and unusual experiment. Thanks to our magnificent food and drink industry we are sent food on a daily basis. The office is currently groaning under the weight of crates of energy drinks, fancy crisps, red hot snacking sausages, cakes, biscuits, nuts, chocolate, cooking sauces and blackcurrant juice. Every day is an epicurean adventure.
Sorry, what am I thinking, that actually makes this office the perfect place to conduct such an experiment! So in the not too distant future, with the cooperation of Huel, one intrepid Grocer journalist (not me, obviously) will swap food for Huel for a week. And watch this space to find out what happens next.