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NASA researchers are planning a varied vegan menu for astronauts heading to MarsNASA researchers are planning a varied vegan menu for astronauts heading to Mars

NASA Planning Vegan Menu for Astronauts Heading to Mars

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Last year, PETA made headlines with a request to SpaceX to make their planned colonies on Mars all-vegan. Well, here’s a start: NASA is working on a vegan menu for their astronauts’ mission to the red planet in 2030.

According to the Examiner, a NASA research team is dedicated to planning the plant-based menu for the long trip. Six-eight astronauts will spend six months journeying to Mars, eighteen months on the planet, and six months on their way back to Earth. “Mars is different just because it’s so far away. We don’t have the option to send a vehicle every six months and send more food as we do for International Space Station,” said Maya Cooper, senior research scientist for Lockheed Martin.

Cooper and other researchers have planned one hundred recipes for the astronauts so far. Along with planned meals like vegan pizza and sushi, they are also working on a “Martian greenhouse” which will allow the astronauts to grow plants and cook their meals. “That menu is favorable because it allows the astronauts to actually have live plants that are growing. You have optimum nutrient delivery with 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,” said Cooper.

According to CP24, the menu will also include food like “tofu and nuts” and “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.” Vegetables grown in their “greenhouse” will be grown in mineral water to replace soil. Along with this menu, pre-packaged foods will be sent with the astronauts as is done at the International Space Station. Food for the Mars mission will need to have a shelf-life of five years instead of two, though.

It sounds like NASA’s menu has come a long way from the early “bite-sized cubes, freezedried powders, and semiliquids stuffed in aluminum tubes” that astronauts took to space with them. Vegan pizza and sushi and a vegetable greenhouse on Mars!

Photo credit: Rashevska Nataliia / Shutterstock.com

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  • rick jones

    Is distance really what precludes having supply ships arrive every six months? Presumably one could launch them every six months and have several “in flight” at any one time. Or is it something more down-to-earth like funding?

    • Chuck Glenn

      I think it’s more like a reasonable trade-off. A vegan diet is perfectly viable. I’ve been vegan for 20+ years with no problem. It’s much easier to grow (or raise) everything from scratch when the diet is vegan.

      • rick jones

        I didn’t seek to question the viability of a vegan diet my question was more about the logistics of resupply and the assertion that distance precluded an every six months arrival of a supply ship.

        • Matthew T

          Considering the cost of just getting cargo into orbit (at least $2,000-$3,000 per pound, optimistically, or $10,000 per pound if you’re using something fancy like the former space shuttles), I would say cost is definitely a major factor in ruling out regular supply ships. Especially in a time when most space programs are seeing budget cuts.

  • Mark Welby

    A strictly vegan diet sounds awful, and a terrible idea. Those astronauts will need better sources of protein than “tofu and nuts”. Such a long voyage. Everyone knows how food can raise your spirits. Why not let the astronauts decide for themselves.

    • GreatSkeptic

      “Tofu and nuts” were only examples. Not only that, but a protein is a protein. Protein from meat isn’t any better than protein from vegetables. The astronauts cannot decide for themselves in this instance because of the longer shelf-life of vegan food, as the article provides.

    • Clair

      Vegan food is still food, which can raise your spirits just fine!

    • Jake

      I think knowing that I was eating animals would lower my spirits rather than raise them. A vegan diet is viable for everyone, it’s better ethically and for health reasons. Don’t condone the slaughter of animals for any reason.

  • $9530041

    Thats probably the geyest thing I’ve ever heard.

  • Devan

    As a vegan who makes her own food and has done the research about the nutritional value of the food I prepare, I can assure you that eating meat free and dairy free is incredibly delicious, satisfying and provides me with plenty of protein! It is a myth that getting enough protein is impossible or difficult on a vegan diet. The average American consumes too much protein on the traditional American diet, and just because you eat meat and dairy does not mean you automatically get all the vitamins and minerals you need to be healthy. I’m very happy to see more exposure for the vegan diet! We vegans are not all hippies, wusses or weird! Some of us are even astronauts. Most of us vegans are regular people who just want to be healthy and leave animals alone instead of treating them like inanimate objects.

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