For Aron: Vegetarian Astronauts

>> Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Aron asked: For the fun of it, if there was a vegan astronaut, would he toss a wrench into the whole food system for space?

Nope. Not even a little.

In fact, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if we'd had a few already. We've had folks from many different nations, religions, and cultures fly.

The nutritionists at NASA are very good and know their stuff. They can work with all kinds of nutritional needs. I suspect we've had food allergies and religious preferences, certainly cultural preferences. I'm not saying it would always be tasty, but, for getting the nutritional needs into our crewmembers, I know we have some of the best on our team.


  • The Mother

    Better question--how many calcium supplements would a vegan astronaut have to take to keep his/her bones from disintegrating? Protein and calcium are absolutely required and hard to get in adequate levels in a vegan diet.

    And yes, I know this is a trick question. Or at least I think I know.

  • Stephanie B

    Actually, broccoli is an excellent source of calcium (though not as good as milk). My sister is vegetarian.

    Although I wouldn't want to be so myself - I have distinct carnivore tendencies and I absolutely would not want to give up dairy products - but, with care, a vegetarian can still get what they need. It's much harder for vegans.

    Bone loss is a huge issue for astronauts.

  • Aron Sora

    I brought up this question because on of my friends claimed that there will never be vegan astronauts while on another anti-vegan rant. While I am vegan, I must tell you that there are some people who can not be vegan for health reasons.

  • Stephanie B

    I don't know for a fact we've had a vegetarian astronaut, Aron, but I'd be surprised if we hadn't. Astronaut medical info is jealously guarded for good reason (privacy).

    I'm not sure about vegan. Getting a healthy diet as a vegan is far more challenging and requires constant vigilance, especially for growing children or special needs diets (like astronauts).

  • Shakespeare

    Speaking as a one-time vegan, many beans are not only high in protein but also have quite a bit of calcium in them (the key is that fat be included as well, as calcium needs fat to be processed). Corn tortillas are also a good resource, if only because of the way they are processed.

    Legumes are the best source for protein. I believe a cup of peas includes 8 grams of protein.

    Some of you might protest that beans cause gas. True, I would admit, but only the first month of being vegan (I know from experience).

    I am upset by the bad press vegans and vegetarians get. I can't seem to find a fictional account (film, book, tv show) that doesn't include negative stereotypes of vegetarians. Why is that? Why do meat eaters hold so much antipathy towards those who choose not to eat meat?

    (As you can see, here's a question to tackle.)

  • The Mother


    Antipathy is the knee-jerk reaction to unfamiliarity with the unusual.

    Not to mention that it is well-known that vegetarianism is probably a healthier lifestyle, yet so difficult to adopt. Therefore, a healthy dose of envy gets added.

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