Nathan Edward Williams

The Monkey Diet Experiment

This is an idea I thought of years ago while I was in college. I thought that rather than eating Ramen noodles or Banquet dinners everyday, it might be a bit healthier, and a lot cheaper, to eat monkey chow. After all, primates aren't all that different from us. A chimpanzee, for example, has over 98% of its DNA identical to a human. So a diet of monkey chow might free up money to buy books and school supplies (and booze).

The problem was that I was living with Bill LeNoue (my best friend in the whole wide world) at the time, and we more or less had an arrangement where I bought the food and he paid the rent. So, since my living expenses weren't all that high, the idea got shelved.

Then in 2006, with my impending divorce and me moving out on my own again, I thought I'd give it another shot. My finances were much better, even if I did have a lot more debt than I would have liked. I wasn't in school, and could probably live just fine on "normal" food, but there was that primal, manly (stupid) sense of curiosity that wondered if I could even do it. Could I live on just primate feed? Would I go insane? Was I already more insane than I'd like to admit?

The years had brought a few more pounds to my waist than there used to be (about 30 or so), so I was also interested in slimming down a bit. The great part (in theory) was that once I'd lost the weight, since the monkey diet was so cheap, I could buy all of the most decadent, expensive treats I wanted, and still be saving money!

In researching what primate feed would be best, I came across The Monkey Chow Diaries. I know that many people (if there are actually people that visit my site) might think that I stole the idea from him, but I did not. I, like many geeks out there, thought of it completely on my own. Well, maybe not entirely on my own. I do remember someone writing into Ask Marilyn many years ago asking if a person could live on dog food. Marilyn said they would do better to eat Monkey Chow, since that would provide vitamin C, something that a dog's body can manufacture on its own. That was the genesis of the idea. From there I watched and read science fiction, which fairly often had a "superfood" that met all the bodies dietary needs. One example would be the "goop" that the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar ate.

So there we were. I instituted pretty much the same rules as The Last Angry Young Man. I would eat only Monkey Diet, and drink only water and Diet Pepsi (which, having no calories, shouldn't impact the diet any, and I needed to the caffeine to function). If I ran out of Diet Pepsi (or need larger amounts of caffeine), I might also drink tea or coffee. But I wouldn't to this for a measly week (pish tosh!). I will do this for one whole month. Longer, if I could manage it. Shorter, if it killed me.

I kept a daily log, although I didn't have a web-cam or a camcorder. I thought I might do audio recordings, but I don't know that that would be any better than just a written record. I kept track of my weight, digestive function, and overall mood. Feel free to let me know if there's anything else you're wondering about.

LabDiet High Protein Monkey Diet
Appetizing, aren't they?
LabDiet High Protein Monkey Diet
Huge, eh?

I decided to go for the LabDiet High Protein Monkey Diet. Its first ingredient is Dehulled Soybean Meal, and was described as "Highly Palatable," while at the same time appeared to have the right mixture of nutrients. So, we would see how well that works!

By the way, I did email the manufacturer to make sure they didn't lace their products with cyanide or anything. Their response was: "[We] received your email to the Mazuri web site and the LabDiet web site concerning human consumption of our Primate Diets. Neither LabDiet or Mazuri products are labeled for human consumption and we do not recommend a human diet of these products." Oh well, at least I had their support.

The hope was to lose weight, and maybe even save money. But if not, I hoped someone out there would find this interesting, if not amusing. My goal was to be entertaining (and to one-up the Angry Man). Read the log to find out how it all turned out!