One possible reason for adopting a vegetarian/vegan diet is the desire not to have to cause the deaths of living creatures in order to survive, where sufficiently-nutritious alternatives exist. Taking this desire to its logical extreme, and thereby precluding the killing of any living thing, including plants and fungi, has me wondering:

Is it possible to survive on a diet that comes exclusively from non-living sources?

Do we have the technological means of producing energy and nutrients from sunlight without requiring plants as photosynthesing intermediaries? Can nutrients be extracted from mineral sources? Can the full range of vitamins a human needs be synthesized in a lab?


1 Answer 1


From this answer to the question on Biology.SE linked by unor:

The answer to your question is yes it is certainly possible.

As far as we know all essential human nutrients can be synthesised from inorganic ingredients, even complex molecules such as Vitamin B12.

Other contributors have pointed out that organic pathways for synthesising our food have evolved over long periods to be very efficient - at least in the conditions prevailing on Earth. You haven't ruled out copying biochemical pathways using chemicals that are entirely of inorganic origin. Anyone trying to do this seriously could create glucose (for example) by artificially creating enzymes (perhaps via artificial DNA) to do the job. The thing is that we already have self-replicating and repairing machines to do that already (plants).

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