We don't have a pill that can serve all of our nutritional needs, but we do have soylent, which supposedly takes care of the nutritional needs for a person ( and is reported to taste quite bland). There are a plethora of dry pellets in the pet aisle that are specially made for each type of animal consuming them, each containing different ingredients for the animals they were made for. The closest thing I could think that we have to "Human pet food" is cereal. If such a food were created I imagine It would be like ramen in the sense that it would be cheap and you could survive on it for a while

Is it possible for there to be generic food pellets made for humans in a variety of different flavors to serve as "human pet food" and supply our nutritional requirements and if such a food were created what might be the impact?

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    $\begingroup$ Like "bachelor chow" from Futurama? $\endgroup$ – John Feltz Jan 13 '17 at 16:00
  • $\begingroup$ essentially yes, funny comparison $\endgroup$ – totally not rick sanchez Jan 13 '17 at 16:02
  • $\begingroup$ To help reduce conjecture, Soylent (.com) pricing and blogs, such as thehustle.co/… may help formulate more concise answers. $\endgroup$ – James Olson Jan 13 '17 at 16:33
  • $\begingroup$ I know for a fact that Susan Conant raised that possibility quite explicitly, though briefly, in one of her Dog Lover's Mysteries books, but can't for the life of me remember which one... $\endgroup$ – a CVn Jan 14 '17 at 16:43
  • $\begingroup$ @JohnFeltz now with flavor!! $\endgroup$ – RonJohn May 10 '18 at 18:59

All-in-one human foods have existed for thousands of years

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People survived on these staples (as in 80% + of their calories came from bread or rice) for most of recorded history. 2000 calories of either comes with all the fiber and most of the protein you need (both being notably lysine deficient).

To make up the gap (and fortify all those vitamins and minerals), just add a few sunflower or sesame seeds, and crush up a vitamin pill in it. Done and done. As for variety of flavors, you can put jam on your bread, and soy sauce or sriracha or whatever on your rice.

Humans have been eating successfully for millions of years. Its doesn't take a silicon valley startup like Soylent to fix a problem we never had.

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    $\begingroup$ Be fair to Soylent and similar research projects -- humans were not successfully eating most of the last 200k years. Our nutrition today is vastly improved. We were good at sustaining life, but most people even today in the Third World don't get anywhere near FDA recommendations for daily nutrition. Better food is major reason why moden First World is taller and live longer. Yes, every culture on Earth has "grain+bean" dish of some sort as a staple. It'll keep you alive. It is a far cry from maximally healthy, which is Soylent's aim (and ease of acquisition in modern world). $\endgroup$ – SRM - Reinstate Monica Jan 14 '17 at 16:18
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    $\begingroup$ Yup, while people generally prefer a varied diet and will supplement staples with many other things, we also know from "experimental evidence" in some historic penal systems that people can live (and do hard labor) for years while on literal bread & water diet with no ability to get anything else. You could have "premium pet food" that provides a variety and extra vitamins for a better nutrition, but the local alien store brand budget homosapiens gruel could be literally bread or rice and it would be sufficient. $\endgroup$ – Peteris Jan 14 '17 at 19:12
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    $\begingroup$ Sorry, but you can't stay healthy by eating just bread or rice. You need more than that. Calories are not enough, they are barely the tip of an iceberg. $\endgroup$ – M i ech Jan 14 '17 at 19:58
  • $\begingroup$ I used to make a bread that was pretty nutritious. It used whole wheat flour, oatmeal flower, and molasses. The bread was heavy because it didn't rise well, but it could be kept in ziploc bags for long periods. I doubt it was a complete nutrition, but it would fill your stomach. $\endgroup$ – Howard Miller Jan 15 '17 at 14:53

Nutrition course I took in college mentioned that every culture in the world had stumbled onto some variant of "bean+grain" dish. The two together form a life sustaining base when fruit/vegetables/meat are not available.

But let's not fool ourselves: we know from bones of our ancestors just how poor their nutrition often was. We can look at many Third World countries today, or First World medical records of the past century... all of these show that malnutrition historically was a MAJOR problem.

Today, we fortify most grains with B vitamins and iron. Why? Because deficiencies in those were EXTREMELY COMMON across the USA until post-WWII. Scurvy was a regular problem until post-1900, when we started to ship citrus fruit reliably to all places with refrigerator trucks.

Man may live on bread alone, but it is a poor life, prone to sickness and early death. Our ancestors grew well in places with wide diversity of foods. In modern era, we are constructing all-in-one foods that are actually healthy, but there really isn't a historical analog.

So: Yes, pet food for people is possible. You can start by eating dry cat food -- healthier for us than for cats because we can digest the grains often used as filler material. But it isn't really healthy. A healthy variant is a work in progress.

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    $\begingroup$ I argue that malnutrition was a problem with quantity, not quality. Grain + beans covers everything pretty well, just add a couple leaves and fruits to prevent scurvy. The problem was running out of beans or grain in the non-growing season, or having a bad harvest and subsiding off acorns and grass for a year. If those peasants had beans and grain aplenty all year round, I argue they would be fine. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Jan 14 '17 at 17:04
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    $\begingroup$ @kingledion That's a reasonable argument. I've been taught quality was the problem (thus the reason for fortification), but I don't have citations to decide the issue. OP should probably research this. Anyone else have info on this point? $\endgroup$ – SRM - Reinstate Monica Jan 14 '17 at 17:52
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    $\begingroup$ Rickets really isn't a good example of disease caused by poor diet. It's caused by Vitamin D deficiency, which is the result of insufficient exposure to sunlight. Which in turn might be down to certain religions and their ideas of body shame. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jan 14 '17 at 19:08
  • $\begingroup$ @jamessqf good point. I removed it. $\endgroup$ – SRM - Reinstate Monica Jan 14 '17 at 19:40
  • $\begingroup$ @SRM: I think scurvy would be the best-known deficiency disease. I doubt you'd see it in peasants, though, as they'd be likely to have access to fresh greens except in winter, and it takes about 3 months for symptoms to appear. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jan 15 '17 at 5:57

There's absolutely no reason why a nutritionally-complete, dried foodstuff couldn't be made for people. In fact, search for 'Huel' which is advertised as exactly that.

It's just that there's not a huge demand for it, as fresh food and a variety of it is much more palatable and enjoyable. It may well have some use in disaster-relief or survival situations, where water is plentiful but food is scarce.


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