In an attempt to encourage this project, a friend sent me an NPR exposé on a practice in American prisons that borders on cruel and unusual. When inmates misbehave in certain penitentiaries, their punishment is something called “the loaf.” There are regional varieties of the loaf, or “Nutraloaf,” but it’s generally a meatloaf (of sorts) made from blending up different combinations of vegetables, beans, starches, and occasionally meat.
Basically they are forced to eat the same, cardboard-flavored glob for countless meals on end.
According to Corrections Officers, it works well as a deterrent for misbehavior. Even inmates with life-sentences and nothing to lose, avoid the loaf at all costs.
Yes, it contains the necessary nutrients to sustain life, but prisoners sometimes refuse to eat it until they become dizzy or malnourished. Numerous cases calling the practice “cruel and unusual” have been brought before the Supreme Court, seeking to determine the constitutionality of using food as punishment.
For some reason, I can’t help but think about my dog’s diet. Besides the occasional treat or bone, he eats the same food every day. While his evolutionary biology probably does not include the craving for a varied diet (like us humans ostensibly do), I can’t help but wonder if he thinks, on some level:
“Damnit, not kibble again!”
In some ways, Ramsay is my prisoner. His actions and freedoms are limited to those I permit. He certainly knows when he’s misbehaved. But his diet is designed to promote canine well-being. It has bison and vegetables in it!
In fact, I’ve found his uniform diet to be healthier. An abrupt change in his food causes irregularities. And no one like having irregularities.
On some level, I relate to both the prisoners and to my dog. I’m trapped by the design of my own project, and must consume a (relatively) bland food for 30 days. I’m also trapped by the design of Soylent’s manufacturers to consuming only the nutrients provided in each packet.
But Soylent is designed to promote my well-being, according to its creators. However, after only 3 days, I’ve found a mixture of dread and eager anticipation for each meal.
So then, are there moralities inherent in diets?
Some religions prescribe specific dietary restrictions. Some people keep a vegetarian or vegan diet, whether for religious, health, moral, or personal reasons. Some people do juice cleanses or self-experiment with trendy diets to lose weight and expel toxins.
Do the intentions or the effects determine the morality of a diet?
Hours slept: 8:30
8:00AM : 16oz
11:30AM : 16oz
5:00PM : 4oz
8:30PM : 16oz
9:30PM : 12oz
Weigh-in : 172lbs
Sign up for emails.