Mushrooms are a good choice as a staple food for a Martian colony because they can grow entirely on agricultural byproducts, with no need for any of the sure-to-be precious solar energy. You can really just put them in a dark closet with some corn husks and let them do their thing.
Getting the energey and nutrients and having a variety of foods to choose from (so you're not eating the same thing every meal of every day) is not an easy task for vegetarians. Hopefully we'll have supplements that can compensate for that in 15 years, but it's not exactly something you can rely on when planning something of this scale.
Iron, Calcium and Zinc are easy to obtain. Vitamin B12 is harder, people would need supplements.
When you're trying to grow plants in artificial environments on an inhospitable planet 40 million miles from earth? Oh, okay...
For meat you need you grow the meat, and you need to feed the people growing the meat, and you need to feed the people growing the stuff that you feed the meat. That's a lot of infrastructure. And the only benefit is that protein, vitamins and minerals are mildly easier to get.
A healthy vegetarian diet could be more diverse than a meat-eating diet, especially if you have the limitations.
Here's a funnier idea -- offer shipment to Mars as an alternative to the appeals process for death penalty cases. It would save us money, and make for an awesome Nicholas Cage vehicle. This is how you establish a colony, dammit!
Well, it worked for Australia.
Just what we need. A planetful of pissed off inmates who, with the arrival of the mad genius scientist, invent teleportation and attack the leader of the free world, and almost succeed at doing so if it weren't for the ex-seal cop who just wants to get home to his kids (and he also happens to reconnect with his wife who had separated with him, but now realizes that he was distant only because it kept them safe).
My favorite aspect of the action hero that is divorced. It's not because he did anything _bad_, he just wasn't around enough.
See also: action hero that has to go to jail because he killed a guy, but it was actually only in self defense.
What? Can you do that?
Most of what's talked about in that chapter will also be possible on Mars.
A ticket to the colony would cost $500,000—with a goal of raising $40 billion—and visitors would be sent into space on a rocket powered by liquid oxygen and methane.
"The ticket price needs to be low enough that most people in advanced countries, in their mid-forties or something like that, could put together enough money to make the trip,"
My point is that it doesn't have to at first. (Some European North American colonies didn't have a real economy at first, either.) Right now, there are people paid to do research in Antarctica. (Not paid as much, but if the current international legal climate towards colonization of Antarctica changes, this will change.)
> Mars would have no net exports to Earth, and no real wealth
In the context of a solar-system wide civilization, this is patently false. Mars would be tremendously wealthy for reasons that are analogous to the wealth of the North American continent. Mars has many of the things that Earth has (exploitable ore deposits, water, and potential for agriculture) but it has them in a much shallower gravity well, so basic physics would dictate that Mars would dominate trade over Earth in such a context.
Whichever civilization realizes that Earth is just a local maxima for human potential and dominates the colonizing of Mars will dominate the human history of the solar-system, just as English speaking western civilization dominated the 20th century through the settlement of North America.
My hunch is that many Chinese scientists and engineers understand this very well, and this will result in a concerted effort by China to colonize Mars. So what I'm saying, is that there will be initial wealth transfer from Earth, fueled by nationalistic competition.
If you're working someplace remote, and you're not getting paid above market, then you're doing something wrong. (Hell, I've heard there are glorified clerks in remote places in the Aleutians that make near 6 figures for basically sitting around.) Given that some Mars colonists will be very rich, and that many governments and companies will pay you to do engineering and research there, Mars colonists are almost certain to have high salaries.
"THE KARDASHIANS ON MARS"
People spend stupid amounts of money on stupid things already. One of the big networks has easily got enough money to send an idiot and a camera up there.
Labor-intensive manual pollination is certainly possible, though.
In any case, there's no explanation of his motivation, and the statement is false according to this article that links to a (now deleted) tweet from Musk: http://thenextweb.com/insider/2013/01/10/good-news-elon-musk...
People need protein, energy, vitamins, and minerals.
Getting calories from meat is inefficient; you need to feed the animal many more calories than you'll get back.
Meat is reasonably good source of protein. Getting protein from vegetables means mixing types to get the range of amino acids. There's a gentle concern about the lack of omega fatty acids in some vegetarian diets.
You get some fat soluble vitamins from meat and dairy products.
Meat is a good source of iron. Milk is a good source of calcium. But both of those can be found in vegetable products too.
tl:dr You need to grow vegetables anyway; meat is really inefficient; why waste energy growing feedcrops for animals (and for the people looking after the animals, and the people looking after the feedcrops) when you can jsut grow feedcrops for people.
You're taking the model of an industrialized first-world nation with 300 million+ people and applying it to a tiny space colony. Calling that apples vs. oranges would be an understatement.
If you disagree, tell me this: How many 30,000 lb. John Deere combines do you think will be sent with the first settlers?
And don't forget space - these would be domed colonies, so space would be absolutely critical. Here on earth humans have devised a way to raise food animals in a way that's (somewhat) reasonably efficient in terms of land used. But that method depends critically on armies of 30,000 lb. John Deere combines in order to produce sufficient quantities of feed crop without an enormous human labor input.
Useless baby boy goats
They eat. They eat far more calories than you'll ever get from them. Someone has to look after them, and that person also needs to eat.
Someone needs to grow the food for the goats, and for the goatherds, and that person needs to eat.
For a goat to produce milk it (like most mammals) needs a child to feed. Thus, you need at least one male goat for breeding. But male goats don't give milk. And they stink. And billy goats are just plain mean. So this stud-goat, stinky, mean, lazy thing, also needs food and care. And the birthing goat needs some attention. And if it's a male it's useless, so someone has to kill it.
All that time and effort, and all you get is goat meat and goat milk. Maybe some will think it's worth it, but other people would prefer using all that time and energy on a wider range of food.
> tell me this: How many 30,000 lb. John Deere combines do you think will be sent with the first settlers?
You have it backwards: Massive industrial farming makes things many times more, not less, efficient.
If that is worth it probably depends on how much goat milk is worth to you, how much the green crap is worth to you otherwise as compost, and how much goat crap is worth to you as fertilizer.
I don't think it would be worth it, but it wouldn't terribly surprise me if I were wrong.
We canna break the laws of (bio)physics, Jim.
Given an opportunity to live on Mars, I can't imagine any interested person who would have to think twice about becoming a vegetarian to do so, even if only out of necessity.
I'm no vegetarian, but it's pretty clear that it might be more efficient than raising livestock, or at least has the potential to be.
Given some bacteria, fungi, and earthworms, there is little that composting couldn't also recycle.
Farms are basically solar collectors. Unless you have lots of excess capacity, it only makes sense to support livestock on kitchen waste. Studies were done on this in the 70's. It turns out that chickens laying eggs are more efficient than pigs for this purpose.
2. By products
Chickens might be better then pigs, but the point is those little biological machines are really good at what they do and they are are easier to take care of/maintain then some machine to serve the same purpose.
Farmed Tilapia might also be an option, though I'm not clear on how flexible their diet is.
By Earth standards, it's drier than the Gobi desert, but for the purposes of colonization, there's plenty there to work with. The polar ice caps alone could cover the whole planet in an average depth of 16 meters of water. Also, there's the asteroids for when the population grows to a considerable size.
For the first colonists, I'm guessing they'd want to make do with as little water as they could get away with - meaning there wouldn't be any raising of fish unless they couldn't get away with not raising fish.
I'd see if I could use the atmosphere as a shipment mechanism.
> For the first colonists, I'm guessing they'd want to make do with as little water as they could get away with - meaning there wouldn't be any raising of fish unless they couldn't get away with not raising fish.
Farmed Tilapia ponds could serve as a reservoir of water/hydrogen. For a population in the 10's of thousands, it would seem to be a reasonable addition. For the first hundred, not so much.
It's actually more reliable and easier to raise a diversity of plants for many indigenous horticulturalists on Earth. Monocropping makes you vulnerable to pests, and there's a nonzero chance of those being introduced by colonists.
Another view point: livestock isn't just useful for food, cultures and civilisations have been turning livestock into food, clothing, tools and other resources for centuries. It could be useful.
I know some people find it abhorrent we exploit animals as resources (not me personally), but Musk seems like a pragmatist. If it makes sense to send a bunch of meat loving carnivores to Mars with a ship hold full of livestock then that'll be the option.
On the upside, if they're using a liquid oxygen/methane rich mixture for the fuel they'd have a natural source of methane by having livestock.
It's true that human cultures have historically relied on animals to convert inedible biomass into edible biomass, or to produce other materials. But those cultures didn't have all sorts of modern technologies such as hydroponics, engineered microbes, or chemical labs. And unlike the area where human cultures first developed, Mars isn't exactly known for its large quantities of available pasture land just sitting around waiting for grazing.
Right on. The thing to remember here, is that, as Feynmann says, plants make themselves out of air! < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1pIYI5JQLE > (If you doubt, go back to your basic biology education and remember the formula for photosynthesis.)
So a Mars colony's farms are basically chemical solar collectors doing two things: 1) providing chemical energy to the colonists (food) and 2) Converting Martian CO2 and water into biomass. If you introduce too many warm blooded animals into the system, a lot of your energy input gets wasted as livestock body heat.
tldr - By going vegetarian at first, the Mars colony accumulates usable biomass faster.
Does make me wonder how easy it would be for them to build the colony into a waystation with fuel refineries and fuel refilling.
(Also, the "Up on the Farm" chapter of this book is a good background read for this discussion: http://www.nss.org/settlement/ColoniesInSpace/colonies_chap0... )
The thing to remember here, is that, as Feynmann says, plants make themselves out of air! < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1pIYI5JQLE > Go back to your basic biology education and remember the formula for photosynthesis. < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photosynthesis >
So a Mars colony's farms are basically chemical solar collectors doing two things: 1) providing chemical energy to the colonists (food) and 2) Converting Martian CO2 and water into biomass. If you introduce too many warm blooded animals into the system, a lot of your energy input gets wasted as livestock body heat. So by going vegetarian at first, the Mars colony accumulates usable biomass faster. The faster you accumulate biomass, the faster you can make more biomass.
This is also the principle behind the tactic of mostly making construction vehicles at first in Starcraft, or concentrating early on customer acquisition in a startup.
Another reason is the higher ambient radiation levels on Mars, which plants are more resilient to than animals. Animals would likely have a higher cancer rate than here on Earth, and who wants to eat a cancerous steak? Not appetizing.
You could say we will ship out machines and supplies to take care of all the _other_ stuff that you need to live. It is true you can have other methods to deal with some of the additional requirements of life, but animals are really good at fulfilling some roles. Additionally they are tasty.
Local cultural fads would probably determine if stringy local small mammal meat or freezer burned brisket would go for more.
The only thing I'd be gently worried about would be Omega 3 fatty acids - maybe linseed, or maybe that's something they drag out of the gravity well.
if only Asimov was around to see these events start to unfold.
 Currents of Space - Isaac Asimov
"Recent Articles in the press have said that I think Mars is for veggies only. Not so! Am in favor of freedom of diet"
Eating vegetarian is dramatically more efficient, energy wise (I'm not trying to be a vegetarian apologist here, I am quite omnivorous myself, it's just a statement of fact), and any martian colony simply won't have the resources to waste on meat.
Meat is a luxury.
Sounds like this is at least partially personal. However, there are practical reasons for this too.