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Diet for a Small Planet

3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,137 Ratings  ·  118 Reviews
With the new emphasis on environmentalism in the 1990's, Lappe stresses how her philosophy remains valid, and how food remains the central issue through which to understand world politics.
Paperback, 528 pages
Published August 27th 1991 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 1971)
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Community Reviews

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Oct 08, 2007 Carmen rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: sadists
This book ruined my childhood. This book made my mom put soy grits in spaghetti sauce, and I'm pretty sure it had something to do with her delivering a lecture on carob to my second grade class, too.

But I'll give it this: Walnut cheddar loaf sure makes the planet FEEL small. Because as far as I'm concerned, the planet isn't big enough for the both of us. I hate you, walnut cheddar loaf.
Jul 21, 2013 Lauren rated it really liked it
When my mom became a vegetarian in the early 90s, she read Diet For A Small Planet. I remember thinking, “wah wah wah my mom is such a boring loser moron head.” I pitied her for picking up a book with the words “diet” and “small planet” on it—and a pile of grain, to top it all off. This was around the time that I hid all the “Now Serving Veggie Burgers!” pamphlets from our favorite diner, because I didn’t want that nasty crap on my table. But Mom was onto something. Although it was written in 19 ...more
May 04, 2009 Bob rated it really liked it
I got this a couple of months ago and was prompted to read it by seeing author Frances Moore Lappé's daughter Anna speak this weekend. What's astonishing is quite how thoroughly she stated, 25 years ago, everything that current food politics writers (Pollan, Nestle) are still reiterating. The message is evidently still sinking in!
Her recipes themselves are intriguing - I think she might be single-handedly responsible for an entire generation always shaking gomasio on top of their rice and beans
Nov 22, 2014 Tiffany rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food
My next door neighbor Leslie introduced me to this book. She was a hippie who gave my Nixon-loving parents fits. Later she died tragically of an unspecified genetic cancer. In the 70's she was skinny and long-haired and had hip-bones like Twiggy and I thought she was the bees knees.

What she said when she loaned me her copy of the book was that meat was very expensive and hard-on-the-planet to produce whereas grains were not. Because I was ten I thought she was talking about eating grass and tha
Lisa Vegan
Sep 01, 2007 Lisa Vegan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who cares about the earth, the next generations, anything at all
I enjoyed this book when I read it, but I thought it hadn't made a huge impression on me. Looking back, I realize that I became a (lacto-ovo) vegetarian a few years after I read this, and I'm wondering if it had more of an influence than I've ever realized. Highly recommended - probably suggest reading the 20th anniversary edition that's out if you've never read the book, although I have not read that edition.
The most important book on Nutrition and Politics I have ever read. If you don't immediately see the relationship, then read this book.
Dec 31, 2008 Abby rated it really liked it
I read the 20th anniversary edition of this book (which is nearly 20 years old itself) and recommend that anyone else who do so start with the actual book, then read the intros and comments in chronological order. I just read it in page order, so I got a lot of updates and somewhat self-congratulatory and very earnest statements about the impact of the book until I got to the actual book that had such a big impact.

If Lappe feels self-important, it is because to a real extent her book (or at lea
Devon Trevarrow Flaherty
Oct 19, 2007 Devon Trevarrow Flaherty rated it liked it
Recommends it for: natural food buffs who want a little walk through.
It was fun to read this book, because I felt like I was returning to the roots of a lot of the modern whole foods/vegetarian movement (if that's what you would call it). Honestly, though, it's the kind of information that you can now get in an abundance in a myriad of other, more modern, more up-to-date, even more interesting books and other sources. Even my current reading of The Omnivore's Dilemma is proving to be more engaging, and has much of the same info as Small Planet. And another thing: ...more
Ben Williams
Mar 09, 2009 Ben Williams rated it it was amazing
Though many such books exist today, this book was akin to Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" in that it brought to life an entirely new way of looking at or thinking about food. It encouraged people to look more deeply, to see that food contains a hell of a lot more than the obvious elements one normally is exposed to. I read this book after completing my first semester of college, read it late into the night, feeling a new sort of excitement well up as the pages went on. Almost seven years later, ...more
Sep 16, 2015 Data rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The recipes I have tried from this cookbook actually are made to taste good. Years ago, when this book was new, it was difficult to find some of the ingredients the recipes called for, but it is not much of a problem now; even the local supermarket carries many of the specialty items used in here.

There is also a great deal of practical nutrition information.
Mar 27, 2012 Anne rated it liked it
Read this one a while back and started making soybean loaves. Good ideas, but wow, were some of the original recipes heavy on the stomach. Wonder if they've changed them over the years.
Stacy Ho
Mar 02, 2012 Stacy Ho rated it really liked it
Shelves: food
I enjoyed reading this classic book, especially the author's theory of change. I think her five grounding principles sum up the philosophy behind her food activism:
1. Because scarcity is not the cause of hunger, . . . the solution can be found only by addressing the issue of power. . . . Development must be the process of moving toward genuine democracy . . . .
2. Just as "development" must be redefined to encompass the concept of power, so must "freedom." For what is freedom without power? . .
Nov 15, 2014 AJ rated it liked it
Wow, this book was excellent. I found it to be probably the most comprehensive book about food politics that I've read. It encompasses a lot of important points and really takes a thorough look at all of the intricacies of our current food system. For example, the author makes all of the important connections and leaves no stones unturned. She explains how our current food system leads to overproduction, environmental devastation, hunger and questionable food products. She makes the connection b ...more
Apr 01, 2009 Elizabeth rated it liked it
I would have been really excited about this book in college. Written in the 60s, it was one of the first books to link US food policy and production with global poverty and poor diets. Reading it now feels a little outdated, not because the information is old (indeed, much of it rings familiar to contemporary complaints about the global food industry), but her enthusiastic 'look what I've discovered!' style of writing reminds the reader of how new many of these findings were in the 60s and how m ...more
Anne Mcarthur
Jan 03, 2016 Anne Mcarthur rated it really liked it
A really important book. While some parts are a little outdated, it is still relevant...especially when she writes about big food industries and the need to for whole, unprocessed food. We also still need more local democracy...not just on food and eating, but to stand up to big industry and big politics. Feeling motivated to eat better and be more politically active in 2016.
Apr 17, 2012 Pike rated it liked it
Recommended to Pike by: Father
If I had been new to the subject this would have been at least a 4 star for me, but since I was familiar with it I felt it a little basic. This book should be noted for its influence on current public knowledge on how protein comes from the majority of foods and not just animal products. I am a vegan and I frequently recommend this book to people who critique me on how I am starving my body of protein by only eating plants. I wish this book had included more vegan recipes, as well as more tables ...more
Karen Floyd
Mar 04, 2012 Karen Floyd rated it liked it
Shelves: food-and-wine
My edition is from 1980, and I often found myself wondering how much, if anything, has changed in the 30+ years since then. For the better? For the worse? Today's food poisoning crises in various avenues of food production would seem to indicate that not a lot has. The laws seem to be there to protect the big producers not the consumers. And certainly not the health of the Earth. The book is full of important information about the way our food is produced and new products are developed, and the ...more
Kirsten Faulkner
Aug 08, 2015 Kirsten Faulkner rated it it was ok
Some good information, lots of the author talking about her experiences - which didn't tell me much or add to her message.
It was mostly things I found to be in my limited but already existing food knowledge.
I wouldn't recommend the book, as much as I wanted to find it useful.
Jan 12, 2012 Emily rated it liked it
Shelves: food-studies
While very familiar with Frances Moore Lappe's key messages of knowing the food system, eating less meat, and going for complementary proteins, I hadn't ever read her book. This semester, however, I'm taking a free course at Northeastern University for which this book is suggested reading and Lappe is one of the speakers in February.

I think because I got my MPH at UC Berkeley, I've been so routinely fed Lappe's main themes that they seem like second nature, rather than extraordinary claims. I'm
Jan 07, 2015 Lucille rated it it was amazing
Read long ago when I lived at the shore, eating veggie burgers and making my own yogurt in a Salton yogurt maker that still works. Science may not be the same today depending on who you follow, as far as whether plant based or animal based takes up more energy to produce.
This book was groundbreaking in its day. At the time it was first published, in 1971, it wasn't common knowledge that eating a meat-centered diet was unnecessary and possibly even unhealthy, and that meat production uses up a lot of resources and contributes to world hunger.

Now a lot of this is common knowledge, and since the last time was updated was 1991, a lot of it is outdated. (For instance, at the time the book was last revised, it wasn't common knowledge that obesity is linked to diabetes
Apparently this was the book that revolutionised the American diet upon release [although I don't think it's caught on], although it's definitely revolutionised mine. Had it recommended to me following my heart attack, and so glad I read it.
Back in the 1970s, I read this book and used it faithfully for many years. Revisited it in 2002 and wrote a review for Amazon. Listing it in my Good Reads because it's a book that was ahead of its time back then, and still relevant today.
Jun 15, 2014 Kendra rated it liked it
Shelves: food, earth-friendly
This book was excellent, but frustrating in the fact that a lot of the issues she wrote about 40 years ago are still problematic today. When I was reading it, the debate regarding food stamps was in full effect, and I was disheartened by the fact that we are still dithering about whether hungry people should be fed. Food is a human right - it should not be withheld if someone does not have money - or even a drug addiction in my mind. This quote in particular could have easily been uttered today. ...more
Carolyn Fitzpatrick
May 01, 2015 Carolyn Fitzpatrick rated it did not like it
Shelves: self-improvement
I thought it would be more of a how to. 90% of the book talks about WHY we need to switch to a home-grown, vegetarian diet. About 10% is left for HOW. And that mostly consists of overly fancy vegetarian recipes with way too many ingredients. Nothing about how to transition to a vegetarian diet, or how to cook or plan meals around vegetarian entrees.
Feb 21, 2014 Anne rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This book changed my life. I went from a blissful carnivore to a happy vegetarian. It exploded my worldview: it was my first foray into thinking globally and viewing the planet as deserving of justice.
Jeff Keehr
Nov 16, 2015 Jeff Keehr rated it really liked it
Very influential book in its day. I loved the idea of combining proteins to save food. She also builds a great case against the feedlot system. Too bad more people didn't read this book.
Don't forget when you read this for its philosophy and its recipes, that while it didn't start a whole movement it antedates a lot of bigger and better-known books that build on it.
Sabrina Robinson
May 07, 2009 Sabrina Robinson marked it as cookbook
Shelves: our-library
Classic manifesto on the why, hows, and wherefores of vegetarian eating. A good 25 inscrutable pages on "protein theory" that probably fairly outdated, charts. table about nutritional requirements and comparisons - but finally gets to recipes around page 350. more charts, lists, equations, etc. afterwords. Actually haven't cooked much (any? I can't remember doing so... although I may have used it as a source to create my own recipes in the all-too frequent incident that I want to cook s ...more
Apr 21, 2014 Vampire-lk rated it really liked it
Shelves: school, contemporary
Good book! The parts I read for my school assignment was very interesting! Lappé still remains on of the most known/assigned books on this subject according to my prof!!
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Frances Moore Lappe--author of fifteen books, including three-million-copy bestseller Diet for a Small Planet --distills her world-spanning experience and wisdom in a conversational yet hard-hitting style to create a rare "aha" book. In nine short chapters, Lappe leaves readers feeling liberated and courageous. She flouts conventional right-versus-left divisions and affirms readers' basic sanity - ...more
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“For freedom is not the capacity to do whatever we please; freedom is the capacity to make intelligent choices.” 0 likes
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