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].
“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.