Nowadays more and more people are considering the spiritual dimension of their lives and giving thought to how their daily activities impact their fellow passengers on Spaceship Earth.  Science has given us an ever-increasing ability to control nature and our relation to it, but this awesome ability has not been accompanied by any noticeable increase in the kindness and respect with which we treat our fellow beings.  Quite the contrary.  To the hunter-gatherer, hunting was a holy act, accompanied by prayer, ritual, and often an apology to the prey before or after killing it.  We, on the other hand, do not need to kill to survive, but kill anyway, on a vast scale, treating our victims with the anonymous disrespect of a high-altitude bombardier.

Can we avoid this cruelty?  Many thoughtful people have embraced some form of vegetarianism, adopting practices long traditional with Hindus, Seventh Day Adventists, and other groups.  But that is only a partial solution.  Modern molecular genetics and biochemistry has proved beyond doubt the interrelatedness of all living things, from the lowliest bacterium to the tallest redwood.  We are scarcely less related to the wheat or the yeast in a loaf of bread than we are to our fellow animals. We can no longer hide behind the idea that these life forms are not our kin, nor can we rationalize our mistreatment of them by saying that plants, fungi, and microbes are incapable of suffering.  The instinct to avoid pain and noxious stimuli, and the restless search for favorable conditions, which Thomas Jefferson called the pursuit of happiness, are as universal among living beings as their DNA.

If we refuse to eat our relatives, what CAN we eat?  Fortunately, the same sciences of chemistry and biology that reveal our kinship to all life have freed us at last from the need to kill.  Although most people are suprised to hear it, it is possible to live and thrive on a diet consisting entirely of foods of mineral origin.  This is because every one of the several dozen nutrients the human body requires - carbohydrate, amino acids, fats, vitamins, and of course minerals - can be synthesized or extracted from air, water, and rock without the involvement of any life form, aside from the chemists who perform these miraculous transformations.  The Mineralarians are an international association of people, diverse in other respects, who share the common determination to subsist on foods of mineral origin, thereby sparing our fellow beings the victimization that has been their lot, at our hands for the last million years, and before that at the claws and jaws of previously dominant species.

Isn't this all a bit unnatural?  Certainly it is more natural to eat meat and vegetables than chemicals made from rocks and air, but natural is not always good.  Many of the finest creations of the human spirit, music for example, are not natural.  Nature, for all the good that can be said about it, is full of cruelty and suffering, and there can be no nobler application for our vaunted intelligence than devising ways to mitigate cruelty, especially when we are the cause.  If a "primitive" hunter were offered the chance, through technology, to spare his prey, would he not, like Abraham, thank God for freeing him from the hateful duty he was about to perform?

How are Mineralarian foods made?  Starting with carbon from coal and petroleum, hydrogen from water and nitrogen and oxygen from air, a few feedstocks of simple organic chemicals are made.  Some,  like glycerine (C3H8O3), are already nutritious and digestible; others, like methanol, ammonia, and acetaldehyde, are merely intermediates along the way to synthesizing the dozens of amino acids, fatty acids, and vitamins the body needs in greater or lesser quantity.   Many of the synthetic reactions mimic those that occur naturally in plants and microbes, but we carry them out with mineral catalysts in a cruelty-free laboratory environment.   The body's own metabolism picks up where our chemistry leaves off, converting the few dozen essential nutrients in mineralarian food into the hundreds and thousands of specialized molecules, including DNA and proteins, required for life.  Indeed the flexibility of human  metabolism  (which we share with other organisms) puts our chemists to shame.  For example, starting from a single synthetic nutrient already mentioned, glycerine, the body can make all the carbohydrates it needs, most of the fats, and about half the amino acid used to build proteins.  Some nutrients cannot be made in the body, for example essential amino acids and vitamins, but only one of these -  Vitamin B12  - is expensive and difficult to synthesize in the laboratory.  Fortunately the body needs only a little of it - a thousandth of an ounce is a lifetime supply. To complete the diet, minerals like calcium and iron, and trace elements like copper and molybdenum, obtained from igneous and sedimentary rocks, are added .

The bad news.  While there is no doubt of the wholesomeness of a mineralarian diet, the same cannot be said for its taste and texture.  While some artificial flavors are quite adequate, it has so far proven impossible even to approximate the texture of, say, a freshly baked loaf of bread using mineralarian ingredients. No one can pretend that mineralarian food would be as pleasant to eat as traditional food. But we were not put on this earth merely to satisfy to our senses and appetites, and mineralarians find that it is a small sacrifice to forego the delicious cruelty of "natural" food in furtherance of a greater good.

Strict Mineralarianism. Some mineralarians choose not to eat foods made from fossil fuels like coal and petroleum, or fossiliferous sedimentary rocks, for the same reason they would be not want to eat road kills.  Fossils are usually the result of violence and often contain plain evidence of a being's untimely and painful death.  To be sure, the violence was not due to human cruelty or negligence, and indeed usually predates the appearance of humans on earth, but it is violence nonetheless.  For those who do not wish to bring the fruits of ancient violence into their bodies, we offer a range of strict mineralarian foods made entirely from certified igneous rocks and atmospheric gases.

For some, even these foods are problematic, because there is no assurance that an iron or calcium atom freshly spewed from a volcano, or a nitrogen atom distilled out of the air, has not at some earlier time in geologic history been part of a living being who suffered a violent death.  Certainly there are some atoms on earth that have never been part of living beings, but there is no sure way to identify them, because all atoms of a given kind (isotope) are physically indistinguishable. The consumer of such atoms is like a reluctant participant in an old-fashioned firing squad execution, where it was customary to issue one blank round at random among the live rounds, so each squad member would have some chance of not having killed. If you are troubled by such thoughts, please contact us.  If there is enough interest, we will investigate the possibility of creating foods from material of extraterrestrial origin, in other words from meteorites.  Such food would be as nutritious and tasty as our other offerings, but it would likely be quite expensive, because some biologically essential elements, like nitrogen, occur only in low concentrations in meteorites.

You are visitor number  .

(web site (c) C.H. Bennett 2001, email bennetc@bestweb.net)