Awhiles back I read a blog discussing veganism and vegetarianism. I wrote in to say that there are many entirely logical arguments for it (health, economic, etc.) but the moralism around it is sentimental. I asked; why valorize animals over plants? I called it “neurochauvinism”.
This got me to thinking. Could it be possible to one-up the Vegans? Here’s my scenario:
The Space Marines find a way to ‘live off the land’; namely, the Artificial Food Machine. You feed it some dirty ice from a comet or an ice-moon; it processes that into a bland fibrous nutritious paste. Fibrous for regularity, of course, and it has every essential nutrient. The machine has no biological components; for the admirals did not want their troops’ life-support system to itself need a life-support system.
This military technology is adopted by a cult of pacifists wishing to morally one-up the Vegans. These “abiotarians” boast that they don’t eat any living things at all; not even cells! (1)
The food machine produces a substance called “spoo”. (2) The Abiotarians tried to rename it ‘manna’, but the rough spacer name prevailed. Spoo is white, wet, tasteless, and of variable fiber content. Low-fiber spoo is like jello, high-fiber spoo like beef jerky. Of course you can put in artificial color and flavor. If you roll high-fiber spoo into sheets and bake it dry, you get a kind of crunchy cardboard called “matzoid”.
“Snarge” refers to snail slime, and also the horrible bloody guck resulting from a bird being sucked into an airplane engine. The artificial-food machine’s snarge is a thick paste, like peanut butter or jam; it’s reddish-brown, oily, and smells slightly like 3-in-1 oil. It’s completely artificial; it’s just named after the horrid animal-derived guck. Not the most popular of repasts, you see; but you need an oily foodlike substance to carry the oil-based vitamins. (A, E.)
If you put spoo and snarge through a blender, then zap the resulting emulsion with microwaves for a kilosecond, then it partially coagulates and polymerizes; and that, my friend, is how you make Crottled Greeps!
Yum, yum! And what do you wash this delicious meal down with? What but Tang?
I think you’ll agree that the Space Marines and the Abiotarians show real commitment, by living on this stuff. Talk about intestinal fortitude!
(1) The natural role for Abiotarians is first-wave colonists for terraforming. They eat rock, water, and nuclear power, and mix their feces and urine with the planet’s regolith to create soil. So their job is dirt-making; and they are therefore prone to sneer to vegans, “You eat from what we shit!” Holier Than Thou strikes again.
These extreme militant pacifists rely upon military high-tech, for some are former Space Marines. Soldiers have turned monk before, as a cure for post-traumatic stress syndrome. They left behind combat but kept the routine and the menu.
(2) “Spoo”, referring to a fictitious food-like substance, has previous reference. There was a New Yorker cartoon by Roz Chast in which “sppooo” is being prepared in a parallel world. Also, in JMS’s series “Babylon 5” , spoo was a bland white gelatinous stuff made from space worms.