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Protein Without Livestock Vital for Space Colonies, Good for Earth

Earthlings may maintain an irrational distaste for protein produced in laboratories versus meat hacked off dead carcasses. But Moonmen, Martians, and other future offshoots of humanity may depend on meat grown without animals. One space engineer says raising livestock in space would be “unthinkable“. The feed and water livestock consume and the waste they produce create is hard to sustain on Earth; hauling enough grain and water to feed livestock on the barren Moon and Mars would require enormous energy, and hauling cows and pigs in zero-gravity would be a literal shitshow. Besides, cattle hate rockets:

As the authors of Dinner on Mars explain, if we want meat in space, we’re going to need to get it without our hoofed friends:

At the outset of their pandemic project, Newman suspected that a Martian food system would be based on plants and algae with animal agriculture playing a minor role. She was surprised by how difficult it was to make the case for animals on Mars, which served as “a reminder of how inefficient it really is to produce animal protein.” There are no cows or pigs in BaseTown and no chickens, either.

Since importing these animals to Mars is unlikely, we’ll have to do things differently, Newman concludes. Cellular agriculture such as precision fermentation (which uses microbes to produce proteins) could have a huge impact, both on and off planet Earth [Laura Brehaut, “How What We Eat on Mars Could Determine the Future of Food on Earth,” National Post, 2022.11.29].

And just like other technologies of space exploration, protein produced without critters could improve life on Earth:

“If (these technologies) displace animal agriculture to any degree, it frees up massive amounts of land that could be rewilded, for example, to capture carbon and return to ecosystem services,” says Newman. “The potential is incredible” [Brehaut, 2022.11.29].

Maybe some far-off day when we have terraformed the Moon and Mars, we can ship payloads of frozen cow, pig, and chicken embryos to our space bases to be cloned, gestated, and set free to graze on our astral plains. But in the much nearer term, the technology we need to produce protein sustainably for our Moon settlers could help us terraform Terra.


  1. larry kurtz 2022-12-03 09:04

    A legume and a grain, a grain and a tree nut or a tree nut and a legume eaten together create a complete protein suitable for human nutrition.

    Because of the deleterious impacts of livestock production on the environment plant-based diets are replacing animal protein in much of the world and even in the United States as eaters learn the levels of glyphosate, a known endocrine disruptor found in corn sugars and in small grains and hay fed to the creatures people eat, is incompatible with human life. Pulse crops like lentils, split peas, pintos, black beans and chickpeas or garbanzo beans are legumes that restore lost nitrogen in corn-damaged soils.

  2. larry kurtz 2022-12-03 09:09

    The food web starts at level one so the more meat an organism eats the higher the trophic level and top (apex) predators are at 4 or at 5 where birds of prey reign.

  3. 96Tears 2022-12-03 09:40

    On the future Moon Base grudznick, water reuse will have been mastered so that the hydroponic garden will produce potatoes quite plentifully. The precision fermentation pods will produce gravies, cultured in aluminum packets, to taste like chicken, pork and beef. When fully fermented, the gravy can be stored until dr. grudznick and his conservative klatch of moon pioneers are ready for breakfast. The aluminum packets will be recycled as headgear … and, well, you know the rest.

  4. All Mammal 2022-12-03 10:40

    I like the idea of protein from the good earth. Anything man makes is likely to take your money, harm your planet, pollute your water, and cause growths on or in your person. Lab grown anything sort of gives me the EBGBs.

    I like George Washington Carver’s 300 products from peanuts. Edamame is packed with quality protein and so delicious, too. Freeze dried wasabi peas are addictive. DFP has me convinced to eat less meat everyday so I’m anticipating my neighbor’s hens laying their eggs in the spring. No scurvy here anytime soon.

    I read somewhere that to become enlightened, you need to consume light. The only way to do that is leaves and fruits that grow above ground in the sunshine. I’ve lasted a couple of days meat-free. I had an urge to fight my dogs for their raw bison I feed them. And I already found all my stashed kippers I hid from my brother because the first thing he does when he comes over is woof down all my Norske treats. One can was in my snow boot. About broke my toe when I ‘found’ it. I totally cussed him out last year for taking it. Oops. I have daytime dreams of pickled herring. My teeth love being carnivorous. Trying to kick meat consumption isn’t as difficult as I anticipated. As long as herring is ok.

  5. Edwin Arndt 2022-12-03 12:05

    Simply hauling packaged meat to the moon or Mars would
    be way easier. My goodness, get real.

  6. Donald Pay 2022-12-03 12:16

    Eh. First, why are we wasting energy and brainpower on space travel? Who, really, wants to live on Mars? No one with any brains. Just because billionaires think they can make a killing off the stupid people who think the want to colonize Mars, I see no reason to base our food production on the bamboozled.

    Second, I have no problem with manufactured protein. It’s food security if there is a virus that infects and kills cattle or hogs or other ungulates, but I doubt I would want to make a regular diet of it.

    Third, most of the land west of the 100th parallel is best used for hoofed animals, not nuclear waste and garbage dumps. I might prefer more bison production and less cattle, but I’ll take the cattle over any other alternative land use.

  7. larry kurtz 2022-12-03 13:08

    Indeed. Human space travel beyond the Moon is foolish until interplanetary speeds are improved and meteoroid deflector technologies are created.

  8. P. Aitch 2022-12-03 13:50

    Get real, he says. How real is Sisseton, SD? Here’s real for ‘ya. What’s the average age of DFP readers and commenters? I’d estimate it’s over 55. That means that what’s real for we readers of Cory’s masterful prose means nearly zero to what’s really real. What’s really real is what’s important to those age 25 to 45. It’s their universe. We’re just waiting to move our next level.

    The 25 – 45 demographic think lab protein is “pretty groovy”. Like Cory, this demo thinks slaughtering live creatures to eat is gross and needs to be curtailed ASAP. The rewilded land won’t be just sitting there, though. Here’s what’s real and it’s really real, for sure.

    – An Eco Fuel is an ecologically friendly fuel. Its production and use have a minimal impact on the environment. Eco Fuels are produced from naturally occurring materials – examples are biogas and biodiesel. It is believed that Eco Fuels are the answer to the world’s dependence on crude oil and their use has increased dramatically in recent years in the wake of the ever-rising cost of oil.

  9. DaveFN 2022-12-03 14:11

    Sam’s Club prices today:

    Ground bison: $8.00/lb
    Ground beef (93%) $4.78/lb
    Pinto beans: $0.87/lb
    Corn flour: $0.87/lb
    (corn making up for the amino acid methionine that beans lack)

    “Engineered” or “Precision” protein: $$$$$$$$$$$$$$?????????

  10. All Mammal 2022-12-03 15:53

    Horror stories, zombie movies, even the bible warn man against playing God. Creating the living from the non-living, or visa versa, is strongly cautioned against. Frankenstein. Not Sara Frankenstein. Instead of lab grown meat, why not tofu? I heard about invasivorism- eating invasive species like Asian carp and lion fish….I’d eat meat to save ecosystems…

  11. All Mammal 2022-12-03 18:31

    The three sisters are humanity’s future. As they have been in the past. Corn, squash, and peas or beans will sustain the 7th generation and beyond.

    Did the protein innovators decide they could sell people on lab grown meat easier than they could on slugs and bugs?

  12. sx123 2022-12-03 19:16

    I like steak, but could totally live off of peas, beans, nuts, potatoes, carrots, onions, apples, etc. Skip the step of grinding them and shaping them into hamburgers though; I want them unprocessed.

  13. Arlo Blundt 2022-12-03 20:01

    Well…we could certainly grind those jumping Asian carp into fishburgers, no problem. 50 years ago I remember a refrigerated semi parked by Stone Bridge at Lake Poinsett, with a conveyor attached that went from the water to the truck. Guys in chest waders were netting and forking carp onto the conveyor and into the truck. I asked where they were taking all the carp, and the man said, “Omaha…there is a cafe there famous for fish sandwiches made from ground carp. Ground em up bones and all.” I guess you can deep fry darn near anything and make it palatable.

  14. Mark Anderson 2022-12-03 22:18

    Well, Philip Jose “Farmer”wrote a book called Jesus on Mars. Anything’s possible. Elon will take care of it.

  15. Linda M Hasselstrom 2022-12-04 06:58

    Of course I respect your right not to eat meat, or anything else you prefer not to consume, Cory Heidelberger.

    And you know I publicize your DAKOTA FREE PRESS often.

    So I really wish you’d refrain from comments like “hacked off dead carcasses” when referring to the way ranchers make a living. What would you have us do with those acres of native grass? Plow it up and plant something you prefer to eat? Sell it for subdivisions of people who have to have cars for both spouses to go to work, and for all the kids to drive to town?

    I prefer to assume that you have intelligent reasons for your choices, and that you will argue for them in an intelligent and respectful manner, rather than encouraging us all to insult each other and creating more divisions.

  16. larry kurtz 2022-12-04 07:46

    If cattle grazing is the key to preventing wildfires in ranch country why are mostly Republican counties from the Musselshell in Montana to the Pecos in New Mexico still suffering near daily high or even extreme grassland fire danger indices so often even during the winter? Almost all of South Dakota will experience a grassland fire danger index in the high category again today.

  17. M 2022-12-04 08:22

    Food consumption is a lifestyle choice, yet geographical location makes a difference, along with cultural backgrounds. But if you take a look at the stats, people who eat less meat will probably live longer. When I lived in Loma Linda Ca. a “long life” hot spot, I never ate meat because there were hundreds of alternatives. In S.D., it’s a meat state and people like me have a difficult time finding “health foods”.

    I do know that when given a choice, children will rip into a salad bar till the last piece of lettuce is gone. A couple schools around here have loaded salad bars, better than what the restaurants offer, and I’ve heard great comments.

    Personally, when my mom gave me a microscope for Christmas when I was in 5th grade, I gave up hamburger after throwing a piece on a slide. My body rejected pork and lactose when I was young, so I was fed a great deal of poultry, fish, and a host of vegetables, of which I loved all. I’ve tried many kinds of seafoods and meats but now that I’m old, I stick to veggies and the same foods Larry mentioned. So many choices when you know how to combine them and so much less money to spend. And TASTY!!!

  18. grudznick 2022-12-04 08:27

    No lab protein at the Conservatives with Common Sense breakfasting this morning, but the gravy probably comes from a can.

  19. 96Tears 2022-12-04 08:44

    Thank you for the report, grudz. All is well in the world.

  20. John 2022-12-04 09:03

    Change is hard. Especially for old coots. It had to be tough giving up Nellie and her buggy for a noisy, fast, dangerous car. It had to tough giving up passenger rail for the dangers of air travel. It had to be tough giving up face-to-face conversations for the intrusion of 3d parties eavesdropping on electronic communications. Yet, we still have horses, buggies, some passenger rail, and face-to-face conversations. They merely receded. The poor economics and brittleness of the livestock as food, and large monopolistic electric production and distribution, and internal combustion engine transportation business models are being transformed.

    As P. Aitch implied, the 25-45 year olds are excited about the future, and cannot bury the boomers fast enough.

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