|Author||Frances Moore Lappé|
|Illustrator||Kathleen Zimmerman and Ralph Iwamoto|
|LC Class||TX392 .L27|
Diet for a Small Planet is a 1971 bestselling book by Frances Moore Lappé, the first major book to note the environmental impact of meat production as wasteful and a contributor to global food scarcity. She argued for environmental vegetarianism—practicing a vegetarian lifestyle out of concerns over animal-based industries and the production of animal-based products.
The book has sold over three million copies and was groundbreaking for arguing that world hunger is not caused by a lack of food but by ineffective food policy. In addition to information on meat production and its impact on hunger, the book features simple rules for a healthy diet and hundreds of meat-free recipes. "Its mix of recipes and analysis typified radicals' faith in the ability to combine personal therapy with political activism."
Knowing that her audience would be skeptical that a vegetarian diet could supply sufficient protein, much of the book is devoted to introducing the method of protein combining. With this method of eating, different plant foods are taken together so that their combined amino acid pattern better matches that required by our bodies, termed "net protein utilization". The general principle of combining foods for optimum net protein utilization combines adjacent pairs of the following: [dairy] with [grains] with [legumes] with [seeds].
But while Lappé was correct that combining would indeed result in a more meat-like protein profile, eating a variety of plant foods throughout the day will provide one with all the amino acids required by humans, in amounts which satisfy growth and maintenance. There is no need to combine foods at individual meals.
Lappé admitted in the 10th anniversary 1981 version of the book that sufficient protein was easier to get than she had thought at first:
In some traditional cuisines there is a balance of 70% whole grains to 30% legumes, which may vary to 80% grains with 20% legumes. This tradition can be seen expressed in three regions:
Other recent authors mention that traditional cuisine in Africa combines sorghum or millet with ground nuts. The first edition, published by Ballantine, was sponsored by the Friends of the Earth organization. It includes recipes based on the complementary combinations and was followed by a collection, Recipes for a Small Planet by Ellen Buchman Ewald, with an introduction written by Lappé. A film carrying Lappé's message was distributed by Bullfrog Films.
In 1975, Frances Moore Lappé and Joseph Collins launched the California-based Institute for Food and Development Policy (Food First) to educate Americans about the causes of world hunger. In 2006, Frances' daughter, Anna Lappé, expanded the concepts of Small Planet in her book Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and What You Can Do About It (ISBN 978-1596916593), discussing the connection between food production and climate change.