The Martian Diet. Illustration of a plate with various foods

What will People Eat on Mars?

Think about your current diet: how much cheese, milk, eggs, and factory-farmed meat do you eat? If you're vegetarian or vegan, imagine the water and energy needed to irrigate and harvest all those crops. Can these eating habits be transplanted to Mars? Can they be sustained on Earth?

On Mars, plants cannot be grown outdoors, and there won’t be any animals roaming around, at least for now. Water will be scarce. Will martian citizens be forced to import all their food from Earth? How long could you put up with instant coffee and reconstituted spaghetti?

Faced with these questions, we wrote a paper on how to achieve food self-sufficiency for one million people on Mars by producing plants, insects and clean meat (or cultured meat), drawing heavily on local resources.

The Martian Diet

You can start eating like a Martian today! Well, sort of. Clean meat products are not on grocery store shelves yet, but a host of companies are working on making it happen within 1-2 years, while others are introducing dozens of insect-based products to North America and Europe.

The “Martian Diet” offers environmental and ethical benefits over traditional Western habits: no mass suffering of caged animals, and sharp cuts in land, water, energy use, and carbon emissions.

1. Plants

Most plants grown on Earth can likely be grown on Mars too, either with hydroponics or in appropriately fertilized martian soil. Plants will need to be grown indoors with LED lighting, and yields can be greatly increased by ramping up CO2 and light levels. Genetic modification will be used heavily.

To eat plants like a Martian:

  1. Favor low water-use plants such as beans, tomato and potato rather than water hogs like almonds (and almond milk).
  2. Embrace GMO plants. Those approved in the USA include squash, soy beans, corn, papayas, sugar beets, potatos and apples. In 2018, Golden Rice, modified to synthesize beta-carotene, was approved for sale.
  3. On Mars, nothing will be “natural” or “organic”; buying these products may make us feel good, but organic practices are not efficient for feeding large populations.

Recommended products and projects

The table below contains links to vertical farms and other projects that let you eat plants like a martian. If you have suggestions to add, please email us:

Name Description
AeroFarms Aeroponic vertical farms currently offering baby greens and microgreens
agrilution Offers the Plantcube, an indoor mini vertical farm
Bowery Vertical farm offering different greens
BrightFarms Local indoor hydroponics farms offering salad greens Find a community garden near you.
Detroit Dirt Movement for organic waste recovery and reuse
Edenworks Indoor aquaponics farm in Brooklyn offering greens and fish
Freight Farms Turning shipping containers into indoor farms
Gotham Greens Urban greenhouse facilities offering greens and tomatoes
MIT Food Computer Build a computer-controlled hydroponic system.
Plenty Vertical farm offering a variety of greens
SproutsIO Automated indoor growing system

2. Insects

Eating bugs is gross, right? Tell that to the 2 billion people in 80% of countries on Earth who consume almost 2000 species of edible insects. Turns out North Americans and Europeans are the odd ones out here. Insects provide vastly more calories per square meter than traditional protein sources, and insect flours can be used in regular recipes if you don’t want to crunch down on exoskeletons.

Whole insect products & flours

The table below lists insect-based products that are available for purchase, either in stores/restaurants or online. The first table features companies producing products where insects are front and center, either whole or ground into flours.

Name Based in Products available
Grilo Protein ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ Australia Roasted crickets, Protein powder, Bars
Zirp Insects ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡น Austria Whole insects
Little Food ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ช Belgium Whole insects, Protein powder
Entomo Farms ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Canada Roasted crickets, Cricket powder, Snacks
uKa protรฉin ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Canada Roasted crickets, Cricket flour
Enorm ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Denmark Whole insects, Crackers, Bars
Wholi Food ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Denmark Flours, Bars, Chocolates
รhou ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท France Whole crickets, Bars
Insectio ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท France Whole Insects, Insect vodka
Jimini's ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท France Whole insects
Kinjao ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท France Cricket flour, Bars
Minus Farm ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท France Whole insects, Snacks
The Bug Foundation ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Germany Insect burger
Imago insect products ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Germany Meal mixes, Flours, Bars
Wicked Cricket ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Germany Whole insects
Tiny Foods ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Netherlands Whole insects
Acheta ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ด Norway Insect Flour
Future Food Lab ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท South Korea Whole insects, Powder, Snacks
Entomos ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ญ Switzerland Whole insects, Snacks
essento ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ญ Switzerland Insect burger, Whole insects, Snacks
Eat Grub ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง United Kingdom Whole insects, Protein powder
Krick8 ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง United Kingdom Cricket Pasta, Whole crickets, Powder
Cricket Flours ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ United States Whole insects, Flours, Snacks
Don Bugito ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ United States Whole insects
Exo Protein ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ United States Whole Insects, Powder, Bars
Seek ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ United States Cricket flour, Granola, Bites

Other insect products

These companies produce energy/protein bars, protein powders and other snacks. All of them feature insects as a minor to moderate component.

Name Based in Products available
Bite Snacks ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Canada Protein powder, Bars
Coast Protein ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Canada Protein powder, Bars
Fit Cricket Nutrition ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Canada Cricket Powder, Bars
Landish Foods ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Canada Protein powder, Bars, Crackers
Nรคak ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Canada Protein powder, Bars, Bites
Entis ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Finland Snacks, Chocolates
Bug break ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Germany Bars
Instinct ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Germany Bars
Swarm Protein ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Germany Bars
Bugmo ๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต Japan Bars
Eat:em ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช Sweden Bars, Crispbread
Crickรฉ ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง United Kingdom Crackers
Hop Bar ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง United Kingdom Bars
Nutribug ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง United Kingdom Cricket Pasta, Protein powder, Bars
Sensbar ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง United Kingdom Bars
Bugeater Foods ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ United States Insect pasta, Protein powder
Chirps ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ United States Insect chips, Powder, Cookie Mix
Sustainable Boost ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ United States Powders

3. Clean Meat & Alternative Proteins

Clean meat, or cultured meat, is made from animal cells and involves no suffering or slaughter. Currently there are no clean meat products for sale, but they are much closer than you might think. Stay tuned to this page for updates in the next year or two. While you wait, try to get your hands on the Impossible Burger or the Beyond Burger, available in an increasing number of restaurants and stores.

The table below shows the status of companies offering clean meat or clean fish products. Also consult the New Protein Landscape for a more comprehensive look at the broader ecosystem of players.

Company Based in Products Available Where to Find Them
Appleton Meats ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Canada Clean Meat No products available
Aleph ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Israel Clean Meat No products available
Biofood Systems ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Israel Clean Meat No products available
Future Meat Technologies ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Israel Clean meat No products available
SuperMeat ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Israel Clean meat No products available
Meatable ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Netherlands Clean meat No products available
Mosa Meat ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Netherlands Clean meat No products available
Shiok Meats ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Singapore Clean meat No products available
Higher Steaks ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง United Kingdom Clean Meat No products available
BlueNalu ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ United States Clean seafood No products available
Bond Pet Foods ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ United States Pet food No products available
Finless Foods ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ United States Clean seafood No products available
Fork&Goode ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ United States Clean Meat No products available
JUST ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ United States Meat, Egg, Mayo, Dressings, Cookie Dough Mayo, Dressing and Cookie Dough in grocery stores
Kiran ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ United States Clean Meat No products available
Mission Barns ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ United States Clean Meat No products available
New Age Meats ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ United States Clean Meat No products available
Perfect Day Foods ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ United States Cow-less dairy No products available
Memphis Meats ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ United States Clean meat No products available