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]


This is why you’re vegan: Your Halloween candy is made by slaves  »

You read that article in Good last week by Kristen Howerton, about the big candy companies using child-slave labor to harvest the cocoa beans to make their chocolate; of course you did, you care about child-slave labor. It’s fucking disgusting, it’s outrageous, it’s major U.S. candy companies—“Hershey, Mars, Nestle, and the U.S. division of Cadbury"—directly profiting from child slaves. CHILD SLAVES

It’s also not the most shocking news we’ve ever heard. Nike, right? That scandal broke when I was in high school and I still can’t buy Nike. I read No Logo the year I graduated, and 11 years later (I’m an old), when my conscience feels weak, I still think about the international exploitation of people and animals, and think, yes, this is why I’m vegan.

U.S. candy companies did shock us this week when the New York Times reported on the Hershey Company’s exploitation of exchange students working in their factory IN HERSHEY, PA. Yes, for real: These people came over as Ph.D. candidates and were forced to work “physically arduous” jobs at $8 per hour with “steep deductions from their paychecks for housing, transportation and insurance.” They were kept isolated and poor, and the program’s sponsor ignored the students’ requests for help for months. Horrifying.

Sadie of Tiger Beatdown is sufficiently enraged. And what we—and our pal Kate Dollarhyde—would add to Sadie’s anger is relief, that being vegan, we don’t participate in the exploitation of animals, and now, because these companies don’t make vegan candy, we don’t participate in the exploitation of exchange students, either. Like it’s not enough to make the shitty chocolates from horrible cow’s milk, you have to force foreign engineering students to make the shitty chocolates, too? Hershey’s, you are the goddamn worst.

Fair Trade, you guys. It costs more because it isn’t made by LITERAL SLAVES. Thank goodness we’re vegan. If anyone wants to join us, we’re planning on taking over some abandoned suburban tract homes and growing our own food and never participating in the corporatocracy again.

Or you could just patronize companies on the Food Empowerment Project’s fair trade chocolate list. Might be simpler, though not nearly as fun.

[photos, from top: QuintanaRoo; tofutti break; norwichnuts via Flickr]

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