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Diet for a Small Planet

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  5,775 ratings  ·  168 reviews
Here again is the extraordinary bestselling book that taught America the social and personal significance of a new way of eating-- one that remains a complete guide for eating well in the 90s. Featuring: simple rules for a healthy diet; a streamlined, easy-to-use format; delicious food combinations of protein-rich meals without meat; hundreds of wonderful recipes, and much ...more
Paperback, 20th Anniversary Edition, 528 pages
Published May 12th 1985 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 1971)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
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 ·  5,775 ratings  ·  168 reviews

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Jul 21, 2013 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
Oct 08, 2007 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.
Mar 01, 2017 rated it liked it
It was Frances Moore Lappé's great gift to us to throw out the concept that something called an "entree" must center the dinner table, be it a great sullen lump of animal protein or a substitute like tofurkey. Instead, she focuses on protein complementarity, the technique of melding vegetable sources with incomplete amino acids into full proteins (for example, corn and legume beans; milk and peanuts). It's a wonderful way to think, plan, and cook; as a result this wonderful little book has brave ...more
Bionic Jean
The most important book on Nutrition and Politics I have ever read. If you don't immediately see the relationship, then read this book. ...more
Lisa  (not getting friends updates) Vegan
Sep 01, 2007 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. ...more
Jun 09, 2013 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 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
Ben Williams
Mar 09, 2009 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
Nov 14, 2008 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
Jun 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nutrition
This was a very interesting book. Well researched and even though it's a bit dated, most of the tips given still hold up. Do read it only if you're interested in the environment and feeding the world, because if you're not very interested in these topics it can get quite boring. ...more
Adam Young
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Made me want to go vegan. This book is very eye opening about just how much garbage we eat on a daily basis.
Devon Trevarrow Flaherty
Oct 11, 2007 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
Mar 26, 2012 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.
Carolyn Fitzpatrick
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.
Mar 27, 2012 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. ...more
Nov 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fantastic little book! Lappé's work was revolutionary at the time, and it's quite easy to see her influence; modern food literature continues to espouse the same commentaries and insights she initially proposed 50 years ago! The book is laid out excellently, taking the reader from problems in the food system, to debunking myths that propagate the problems, getting into the actual science of it for the layman, and polishing it all off with half a book's worth of easy recipes to follow!

While sad
Mar 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food-studies
What Lappe is really after is a critique of power—who controls the farming apparatus of the US, who dedicates exports to industrial countries rather than the third world, what hungry people have to choose from when grain stocks go to animals instead of people. This critique ties together the left’s emerging ecological imagination of the 1970s with an emerging sense of global trade and global responsibility. “If our food is not getting to the hungry, if our food exports actually prop up some of t ...more
Ryan Cope
It is amazing to me that this book was first written in 1971 - so many of the concepts are still relevant today. I was very encouraged by Lappé's encouragement and strategies for "the long haul" re: taking action in our own communities towards increased food security and resilience. Knowing that this work is long-term and crosses generations help alleviate the feeling of overwhelm that is often stifling in this work.

Lappé's research is extensive and she makes quite compelling arguments for the s
One more from the Steve Jobs' reading list.

In some ways this book is dated, in other ways it is a natural prologue for 'omnivore's dilemma' and andrew weil.

I do not believe in the word 'diet'. Deprivation results in binging, moodiness and an unrealistic approach to something at the centre of one's life: food and health.

The author is concerned with world hunger, I am more concerned with the small planet, but an informative book. Being vegetarian or vegan is trendy now, but is falling short of cha
Aug 11, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oksana Oriekhova
The best part of this book for me was not the suggested diet for Americans in particular even though I totally agree that all of us should reduce or even eliminate the meat intake especially beef since the beef production is such a great burden for cattle themselves, environment and human health, but the concept introduced such as “living democracy”. The situation of power concentration in the hands of a few is actual as ever and this gap continues to widen. As a result, most of the people do no ...more
April Dickinson
The overarching themes are possibly even more relevant today, but unfortunately, much of the facts and figures were way out of date. I mostly skimmed this one. The most powerful messages were: 1) more than 50% of the grain and acreage for producing grain is to feed livestock (makes no damn sense), 2) the US food industry is not designed to feed people, but instead to generate profit for a very small percentage of people, 3) the cost of agriculture is so highly manipulated and arbitrary that is d ...more
Emmett Nolan
Jul 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I recently finished reading the 20th anniversary edition from my local library. As other reviewers have said, reading in chronological order causes you to have to read through the authors' life story. As for the main book, I found it to be very informative on the economic and environmental affects of meat production. However, I did wish that it also discussed some of the moral reasons for vegetarianism. It also contained a lot of information on the recent negative changes in the American diet an ...more
Oct 08, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The whole point is really intriguing and simple. The book is about the revolution of eating more vegetables and less meat that started in the States in the 1970s. I like the way the author represents her ideas, it's just that there is too much of the author's personal life, which makes the book kind of unprofessional and the tips lose their value.
When writing a book like this, where you want to innovate or present something new to the world, I believe there should be decent research and clear f
Belinda Vidal
First published in the 70's. Most of these stats are from the early 90's when the revised edition was released. I dread to think what some of those numbers are now in 2019. Some ideas in this book I had never even considered, such as tube wells in a Bangladeshi village designed to benefit the poorest farmers becoming property of the villages richest landlord and other such examples of misused power from aid. I'd like to think a lot has changed in the time from when the book was first revised, ho ...more
May 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having taken AP environmental science in Southern California forty years after this book’s initial publication meant that I was familiar with most of the facts and figures already, but the writer’s actual path to writing the book and her descriptions of her process and activist work were really interesting and inspiring to me. The recipes are a little too soy- and dairy-centric for me but they made me really nostalgic for the 70s-style vegetarian restaurants (rip The Good Earth) of my youth.

Emily Braaten
Having read the 20th Anniversary edition of this book, it's not clear to me what chapters were part of the original and what writing was added in this edition. I appreciate the author pointing to ineffective food policy as a driver of inequity; nationally (and globally) we have so many resources, but wealth gaps continue to grow. However, recommending activism through one's food purchases remains inaccessible for people living in food deserts, juggling multiple jobs, caring for others, etc. Ther ...more
Jun 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lot of new vegetarians today understand that eating low on the food chain is best for the planet, but many do not seem well versed in how to eat vegetarian and get all of their nutrition. Any diet that eliminates food groups can cause vitamin and mineral deficiencies that can lead to health problems. I found "Diet for a Small Planet" good at covering all aspects of vegetarianism. A classic read. ...more
May 14, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food
My very first vegetarian cookbook! It's all gotten a lot simpler since then. Ms. Lappe' was all scientific about getting enough of the right proteins as a vegetarian, and these days the experts just tell us to eat a colorful meal, as many colors as you can put on the plate even. For a first book it was inspirational. ...more
Jul 19, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: women-writers, food, 1999
I was given the first version by an aunt who was vegetarian and read it cover-to-cover, and later used it as a guidebook for my forays into vegetarianism. I revisited this, the updated version some years after it was published, and still found it useful, not just for the recipes, but for the science and philosophy behind it.
Some cookbooks are just for reference. This one is for reading.
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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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