Guest post: Vegans in spaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace!  »

Last month, we learned that yet another governmental agency turned its back on initiatives encouraging healthy behaviors. This week, NASA’S Curiosity rover successfully landed on Mars. We could spend all day talking about how the government has screwed us. Instead, let’s talk about space.

Even though the President’s budget detailed cuts to NASA, there’s still a lot of experimental preparation going on in hopes that missions to Mars will happen—eventually. It’s no secret that NASA’s been lusting to set foot on Mars for decades. We’ve even had some successful robotic missions dating back to the 1960s! NASA scientists are excited about Mars, not only because it would be rad, but also because most of the scientific advancements that have been made in relation to future Mars missions are also relative to us here on Earth.

If we were to successfully gain funding and launch a manned mission to Mars, the journey to get to the “extreme planet,” as some call it, due to its harsh environment, would take approximately six months (compare to the three days it takes to get to the moon). NASA expects the initial manned missions to last a year and a half, not counting the year it would take to get there and back. The duration of such a lengthy mission is a hurdle that overflows into all other aspects of the mission, making its overall sustainability a big concern.

A big hurdle is food. It’s not all dehydrated ice cream and strawberries (or apple slices with cinnamon, if you’re fancy). Earlier this month, some interviews with Maya Cooper, a senior research scientist at Lockheed Martin, leaked some interesting information about the experimental menu planning for longer duration missions in the future. Excitingly enough, most of their menu items lack dairy and meat!

[Can’t see the video? Watch it on!]

Many subsequent articles came out reporting that all the Mars mission food items would be vegan, but the initial interview, which detailed examples of breakfast, lunch and dinner options, included the following items that may not be entirely vegan: pancakes, spiced caramel coffee cake, lemon cake, spinach bread, soup, and peanut butter cookies. Also, Cooper states that scrambled eggs will possibly be a menu option.

Aside from how rad it is that vegan meals are becoming the easiest option to send to space, I’d also like to point out that our NASA base here in California (NASA Ames Research Center) is an incredibly vegetarian- and vegan-friendly place! There’s a café that has at least one vegan option every day. The cafeteria staff have never rolled their eyes at me when I ask if the bread they offer for sandwiches is vegan. They even sell California Suncakes and Heart Thrive cakes in the café!

The next time someone questions the vegan lifestyle or tries to rain on your vegan parade, just say, “When we’re all living in space, you won’t have a choice but to be vegan!” So there!

Elysse Grossi is a scientist at NASA and the owner of Sweet Cups, based in the East Bay. She grosses people out with her other blog, Under the Microscope. Other than that, she’s kinda boring.

[photo by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center via Flickr]

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