Space colonization and vegetarianism

In a previous post we critically reviewed Elon Musk’s Mars colony plans and we mostly destroyed his idea. However, there is one good aspect to Musk’s plan. According to this article, Musk’s colony would be an all-vegetarian society. The question is, of course, why does Elon Musk want a vegetarians-only? [For the purpose of this post we will consider vegans as a subcategory of vegetarians.]

The main reason why Musk might want a vegetarian-only colony, is that meat is a very inefficient method of producing food. For producing 1kg of beef you need 10kg of vegetable food for cattle. Especially in the first Space settlements this will be an important factor. After all, the early space habitats will be small and agricultural land will limited. Since humans can perfectly live on a vegetarian diet, it will be an easy choice for Space governments to ban the raising of livestock for food.

It will be an easy choice, because for every cow ten people can be fed. So by banning livestock Space settlements can sustain a population up to ten times larger. Since these extra people will have a greater economic value than livestock, Space communities can grow faster to full economic independence from Earth.

Not only will meat be a rare item on a Space menu, so will dairy and eggs. Although these products might be imported from Earth, launch costs will make them quite expensive. Meat, dairy and eggs will be eaten in Space colonies only a very few times a year, if at all.

One might wonder whether if Space settlements grow large enough, meat will become a part of Spacer diet. Actually, I don’t think so. After all the first generation of Spacer children will be raised as vegetarians and consequently they will also have no experience of meat, therefore most of them wouldn’t miss any meat of their diet.

Almost any product from animals can be replaced by vegetable products: beeswax can be replaced by soy wax, dairy products can be made from soy milk, meat analogues can be made from a wide variety of plant proteins etcetera. Future Space societies will most likely consider commercial animal husbandry as something from times bygone.

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