We seem to have an abundance of resources to devote to raising animal foods for consumption here on Earth. However, astronauts, especially those who would be the first to set foot on Mars, will not have that luxury.
Any trip to Mars will be a long affair. Under the best case scenarios, travel time to and back from Mars alone would take about a year. Anyone willing to travel that long will not want to spend anything less than several months on the Red Planet. The long trip, and limited space and resources make it necessary to ensure efficiency during the trip. And, plant-based foods are the most efficient way of getting the best nutrition from the source to a person on Earth, and as it turns out, in space too.
It makes sense then, that NASA is testing different types of vegan foods for astronauts making the long trip to make sure that the new Martians will have a variety of tastes, and easy-to-prepare options with the ingredients that will be accessible to them.
Of course, they will be growing most of their food once they are established on Mars. And to make sure that their gardens are successful, NASA is also testing different growing environments for the fruits and veggies that astronauts will be consuming.
Image Credits: NASA
Recently a very important study co-funded by NASA revealed that human civilization could be heading for collapse in as little as 15 years. The study consolidates risk criteria into two main indicators, an “us and them” situation between elites and the masses, and resources that are stretched to their limits and threaten the carrying capacity of the earth. These factors interplay to create a dangerous situation in which elites continue to live unsustainably and the rest of the world suffers. Sadly, the catastrophic collapse of food, water, and energy systems, as well as climate change will affect everybody, just not at the same time. As elites buy time, the masses continue to face increasingly severe impacts.
Technology, which many look to for a quick fix, tends to increase consumption, which counters its efficiency benefits. IT’s not technology that will save us, but our own actions, including how we use technology. The NASA study points to solutions that address the root causes: inequality and overconsumption. Increased demand for animal products as developing nations get wealthier is particularly problematic. These solutions include reducing social inequality, consuming fewer resources, and curbing population growth. The real solution is to change human behavior: if we can change how we live, share what we have, consume less, have fewer or no children, and begin to change our societal structures, we can turn this Titanic around. There’s no time like now to begin!
Image credit: Chris Metcalf via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution