Huel (human fuel, get it?) is a powdered, nutritionally complete, vegan food that can replace most of your meals. If food is, to you, little more than a way of satiating hunger and then making you feel guilty about your poor diet choices, Huel is the solution. It can sate your hunger, provide a healthy and guilt-free meal, while being affordable and pretty tasty. You consume Huel like you would a protein shake; add water and mix well. However, it’s not a supplement, it can―in very real terms―replace a meal. Or, all meals. And I think it is a genuine way forward on a planet where we’re running out of space for meat-farming and yet seem to object to super farms, vertical farming and GMOs.
I’ve been on Huel for about a month now, and it makes up approximately 70% of my food. I still occasionally eat with my family, basically for social reasons. If I lived alone or in a flat with people who didn’t like cooking as a group (literally every flat I have ever lived in), Huel would make up considerably more of my diet. (It would probably never make up 100%, as I still like the social side of eating with friends or making a full English breakfast after waking up, hungover, at a friend’s place.) Since starting Huel, I have felt healthy and full of energy, suggesting my previous diet was not as balanced as I had assumed. To a certain extent, that’s the point: having a truly balanced diet is not easy and takes more effort than I default to offering it, despite being more than averagely health-conscious.
We need to be upfront about food culture, at least here in the UK. We eat frozen pizzas, takeaway curries, kebabs and other food we don’t really enjoy except insofar as they sate our hunger. We are not really a nation of foodies who use spices and herbs and really focus on taste balancing. We over-salt and put a lot of cheese on our meals, if we ever do get around to creating one (instead of microwaving one). I’m not saying this as someone who prefers to behave that way, I’m saying that as someone who used to cook (and I am pretty good at it) and found other people found this a simply amazing fact.
I’m also not judging, time and price constraints make it very difficult to buy fresh ingredients and spend an hour and a half most nights cooking a meal. I’m not even saying we, as a nation, don’t visit fancy restaurants, because we do, but a majority Huel diet will still allow us to do that when we want to or the occasion calls for it.
In terms of culture-rich and exciting cooking, Huel is no worse than our normal eating habits. It’s not cuisine nouvelle, but how often do we really eat like that? Huel can easily replace shop-bought pizzas, oily takeaway curries, and that odd slop we often encourage ourselves to microwave, and if we really do want to cook for a date, go to a restaurant with friends or have an exciting night in of adventurous cooking, then there’s nothing stopping us having a traditional meal when we fancy it.
In almost all other respects, Huel is superior to our average eating habits. It’s a balanced meal, full of the generous supplies of the vitamins and minerals we need, while being low in salt and sugar. It’s very high protein (for those who worry a vegan diet will damage their fitness). And it’s incredibly convenient; even compared to 20 minutes in an oven or 5 minutes in a microwave, Huel is fast―it takes less than a minute to prepare. And, working out at around £6 per day (for a 2,500-calorie diet), a day on Huel is cheaper than your average single meal.
And, ethically―well, it’s vegan. It’s better in terms of animal welfare, efficient land use and the environment. And, unlike your best-intentions-shopping with 4 bags of carrots, 3 heads of broccoli and basket-load of mangoes, there’s no reason for Huel to go to waste. Huel has a shelf-life of 1 year, and everything delivered to you can be used.
Huel is even customisable. Huel comes with a gentle vanilla flavour, or plain. Both have an oaty texture and if you don’t like the taste (although I think Huel tastes great) the company also sells flavourings (which I haven’t tried) or you can add other food to Huel. Obviously, you affect the nutritional values when you add your own foods, but Huel is still an extraordinarily healthy base to your smoothie experiment.
My only problem with Huel is having to explain, every time I get out a bottle of powder and add water it to, why I am eating that and not joining them in the queue for the―quite frankly, wildly overpriced and disappointing―food available at my university’s canteen.