Diet For A Small Planet, Five Decades And Counting

Moosewood has been mentioned, along with its cookbooks, and we have featured plenty of other stories about veg-forward diets and related cookbooks; so it is odd that neither this book nor its author have featured in our pages before. Just in time to celebrate five decades, a fitting tribute to its author:

Frances Moore Lappé’s last hamburger was in 1971, the same year she published “Diet for a Small Planet,” her hugely influential book about food and sustainability, which virtually created the publishing category of food politics and turned Ms. Lappé into what she once self-deprecatingly called “the Julia Child of the soybean circuit.”

In “Diet,” Ms. Lappé argued that Americans eat too much meat, especially beef, and that our meat-centered meals are an enormous waste of resources. Both our bodies and the planet would be healthier if we ate a plant-focused diet instead.

Vegetarianism in those days was a strange if not heretical way of nourishing oneself. The center of the American dinner plate was reserved for a big pork chop or steak. In the introduction to one edition of “Diet,” she recalls promoting the book on a local Pittsburgh TV talk show in the mid-1970s. Ms. Lappé was booked alongside a U.F.O. expert, and her only question from the host was: “What do you think they eat on U.F.O.s?”

Going veggie was also a logistical challenge back then. Mollie Katzen, who read “Diet” as a 20-year-old college student and later used it as a reference when she helped found the vegetarian Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, N.Y., in 1973, out of which came her own hugely influential “Moosewood Cookbook,” recalled that many ingredients were not easy to find in supermarkets at the time…

Read the whole article here.

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