Vegans on Mars

We’re not kidding. The planned mission to Mars will be vegan all the way there and back. Looking at the enormous inefficiencies in both materials and energy involved in producing animal products for food, the scientists at NASA have concluded that adopting a vegan diet is the only way to go.

Food is vital to the success of the Mission to Mars, so much so that NASA is planning on spending $1 million developing this aspect of the mission. The menu must sustain a group of six to eight astronauts, keep them healthy and happy, and offer a broad array of food. That’s no simple feat considering it will likely take six months to get to the Red Planet, astronauts will have to stay there 18 months, and then it will take another six months to return to Earth.

Researchers are building a menu for the planned NASA mission to Mars, mixing and tasting the concoctions they hope to send with the astronauts. Travel to Mars opens the possibility that astronauts can do things like chop veggies and do a little cooking. It may be possible to boil water with a pressure cooker too. To ensure the diet packs the best in nutrition, the researchers are designing a variety of dishes that include tofu and nuts, including a Thai pizza that has no cheese but is covered with carrots, red peppers, mushrooms, scallions, peanuts and a homemade sauce that has a spicy kick.

On Mars though there is a little gravity, allowing NASA to consider significant changes to the current space menu. That’s where Cooper’s team comes in. Travel to Mars opens the possibility that astronauts can do things like chop vegetables and do a little cooking of their own. Even though pressure levels are different than on Earth, scientists think it will be possible to boil water with a pressure cooker too.

Once on Mars, NASA is planning for the astronauts to care for a “Martian greenhouse.” They would have a variety of fruits and vegetables — from carrots to bell peppers — in a hydroponic solution, meaning they would be planted in mineral-laced water instead of soil. The astronauts would care for their garden and then use those ingredients, combined with others, such as nuts and spices brought from Earth, to prepare their meals.

One advantage of the greenhouse is that it allows the astronauts to actually have live plants that are growing,  This gives them optimum nutrient delivery from the fresh fruits and vegetables, and it actually allows them to have freedom of choice when they’re actually cooking the menus, because the food isn’t already pre-prepared into a particular recipe.

It’s easy to see why NASA decided on vegan for the Mars Mission when we consider what happens here on “spaceship” earth. Many people are surprised to learn that farm animals actually function as food factories in reverse. It turns out that cows, for instance, only give back as meat 4% of the calories and 10% of the protein fed to them, and here on earth it takes almost 5,000 gallons of water just to produce a pound of beef. Meat is also very wasteful of energy, requiring over 15 times more fuel to produce a gram of protein from beef than from soybeans, for instance. Not to be overlooked are also the many health advantages a vegan diet has to offer. Needless to say, there’ll be no doctor’s house calls in outer space and so the astronauts need to maintain themselves in tip top shape.

While the spaceship blast off is still a few years off, you don’t need to wait to follow an astronaut’s diet. Just remember to pack your ship with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes, to give your personal mission here on earth its very best chance of success!