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Diet for a Small Planet

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  4,682 Ratings  ·  133 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.

From the Trade Paperback edition.
ebook, 528 pages
Published December 8th 2010 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 1971)
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Oct 08, 2007 Carmen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 lp rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 09, 2013 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
May 04, 2009 Bob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Nov 14, 2008 Abby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 11, 2007 Devon Trevarrow Flaherty rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 26, 2012 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  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 21, 2017 Oliver rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Frances Moore Lappé originally published Diet for a Small Planet in 1971, and twenty years later, republished it with additional/updated information and clarified statements. Apparently she got some flack for being “too political,” but I think that’s kind of the point she was getting at with this book: choosing where and what you eat is a political act. As much as this book is about food, it is just as much about the environment, the economy, and democracy. How? Lappé says that “what we eat link ...more
I read in 1997. Inspired me to stop eating meat. I've been a vegetarian ever-since. Compelling and has almost nothing to do with cruelty or long eyelashes.
Stacy Ho
Mar 02, 2012 Stacy Ho rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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? . .
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 17, 2012 Pike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Jan 12, 2012 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Apr 25, 2013 Kendra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 27, 2008 Maureen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: cookbooks, ecology
Many people trace their interest in not just vegetarianism, but also ecology to the reading of this book. It influenced everyone from chefs to politicians. Molly Katzen, author of the Moosewood Cookbook, cites FML as one of her biggest influences. Let's face it: FML's recipes are not all exactly yummy, although I have made the soybean casserole a number of times. There are so many writers out there now whose cookbooks focus on fresh, organic produce, we don't need FML's recipes any more. What we ...more
Sabrina Robinson
May 07, 2009 Sabrina Robinson marked it as cookbook  ·  review of another edition
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
Aaron Levinson
Nov 05, 2016 Aaron Levinson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wish I had read this book 30 years ago, off my parents' bookshelf! Though I've been a vegetarian for almost as many years, my choice in diet might have started even earlier. I've read so many books on the health benefits of eating a more plant-based diet, but never any that spoke to the socio-economic causes of world hunger. Looking back to the early '70s, there are stark parallels between today's food market economy and those of that time. I wish I could say that we've improved, but we can on ...more
Sep 09, 2007 Trilety rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Vegetarian or not, this is must read. This is the practical pre-cursor to Pollan's "Omnivore's Dilemma." Where OD is more of a personal journey through food, DFSP is a journey through economics and social orders, sans the personal touch. Oh so good - even three decades later. How great to have read the book upon its first publishing, but I wasn't able to read at the time.

Oh, the recipes in the back and the nutrional information make this book a must have, at least for the resourceful kitcheneer.
Nicky Wheeler-Nicholson
I have a well-worn and ancient copy of this classic book in the back to nature food movement. It's not a typical book of recipes because there is a lot of information about the basics of being a vegetarian. It was an important book of its time and is still an excellent book to read for basic information. The writing is clear and informative. I did try many of the recipes at the time during my "hippie" days and they were easy to use. I gave it a three rating because some of the information is dat ...more
Aug 21, 2008 catherine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ag-plants, food
i saw this book primarily as a good introduction to the issues of meat production and consumption (environmental and economic). it presents no new information to the already somewhat informed, however, and it may be a bit scattered for the neophyte. and frankly, i dont give a rats ass about how this lady came to her own decisions - id prefer the facts and omit the commentary, thankyouverymuch.

i will say that some recipes are good, and its worthwhile for vegetarians who only care for the shriekin
Oct 06, 2009 Simone rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was groundbreaking when it first hit the scene, but much of the wisdom contained herein is stuff I've grown up knowing (probably because both of my parents read this when they were my age). Lappé provides a lot of fascinating statistics about the rate of return from crops being fed to livestock, but I had a hard time staying focused on what she was saying and retaining the information. However, I think the problem was on my end. This is a good book to read in order to have some solid r ...more
Dan O'connell
Oct 05, 2009 Dan O'connell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read it 26 years ago, and still stuck in my vegetarian phase, apparantly is less wasteful of resources. Apparantly this phase will only last another 50 years or so, but thats OK. Now, despite climate change I can take all the airplane rides I want due to years of vegetarian carbon offsets. Apparantly FML was 30+ years ahead of her time. It only too the complete industrialization of the entire food industry for Eric Schlosser and Michael Pollan to update her thesis.
Aug 14, 2011 Maggie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting to finally read this, as it was always on my mother's kichen bookshelf. Seminal book, still very valid 40 years after it was written.

Ruth Reichl calls it one of the five most important books on American Food ( - though it's less about food than it is about politics and agricultural policies and marketing. The supermarket chapter is chilling.
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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
More about Frances Moore Lappé...

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“For freedom is not the capacity to do whatever we please; freedom is the capacity to make intelligent choices.” 1 likes
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