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Mars Astronauts Should Be Vegan, PETA Urges

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From Mother Nature Network's Michael d'Estries:

Doubling-down on a request made back in 2011, animal rights group PETA is once again urging future colonizers of Mars to adopt a purely vegan diet.

The group's latest appeal comes on the heels of a report that SpaceX founder Elon Musk may attempt a Mars landing as soon as 2018. Back in November, Musk outlined long-term plans that would send as many as 80,000 people to the planet for around $500,000 per ticket.

"At Mars, you can start a self-sustaining civilization and grow it into something really big," he said.

For PETA, the opportunity to start over means going forward without animal products.

"The opportunity to colonize Mars means a chance to make a fresh start, especially now that we’ve degraded our own planet by treating our fellow animals like disposable widgets, filled the air with pollution that will soon make the sky in 'Soylent Green' look clear, and populated the Earth with so many humans that the premise of 'Logan’s Run' starts to look practical," writes PETA. "We can get off on the right foot on our new biosphere by ensuring that SpaceX crafts traveling to Mars are stocked only with vegan food and that Mars’ colonists commit to enjoying an animal-free diet once they’ve arrived. Ensuring that Mars is a vegan planet (rather than importing animal products from Earth or creating factory farms on our new home) would protect animals from the horrors that they endure in the meat, egg, and dairy industries."

While PETA is well-known for aligning its causes with the headlines of the day, in this case a vegan Mars is likely to be the norm and not just some pipe dream. Meat just isn't sustainable or practical when it comes to space exploration. In a 2011 interview with Space.com, Musk supported the idea.

"I'm a big fan of free choice for any future Martian colony," he said. "That said, it is likely that early Mars colonists would have a mostly vegetable diet, because of the energy and space needed to raise farm animals."

Last summer, NASA announced that it was working on a mostly-vegan menu for astronauts' journey to Mars.

“That menu is favorable because it allows the astronauts to actually have live plants that are growing," said Maya Cooper, senior research scientist for Lockheed Martin. "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."

After showing off a prototype of a space-based greenhouse called VEGGIE in October, the agency also touted another advantage to growing vegetables.

“Based upon anecdotal evidence, crews report that having plants around was very comforting and helped them feel less out of touch with Earth,” Gioia Massa said. “You could also think of plants as pets. The crew just likes to nurture them.”

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