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Diet For A Small Planet Still A Classic

Reviewing: Frances Moore Lappe Diet For A Small Planet (Revised)  |  Rating:
Joan Young By Joan Young on
Badge: Editor | Level: 34 | Food & Drink Expertise:
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This was THE definitive cookbook of the early Earth Movement in the 1970s. It’s still worth reading, using, and “digesting.” Forgive the pun!

The premise of this book is that people can get enough protein in their diet without eating meat. Before the term “having a small footprint” was even coined, this book was teaching people how to eat well without squandering protein. It teaches that certain proteins are complementary, and when eaten in combination will provide the nutritional equivalent to meat, or even better.

This book is much more than a list of recipes, although there are plenty of those too. The edition I have is the 1975 Revised version in which author Frances Moore Lappe had been validated greatly after the first edition. She states the ethics of eating non-meat protein more forcefully. I don’t own the first edition, but she says at the beginning that this edition contains more practical applications of such a diet choice.

There are lots of charts about chemicals, protein sources and uses. While some of these are certainly out of date, they are pretty interesting. There are a lot of very nice line drawing illustrations too.

There are lots of tips for shopping and arranging the kitchen to accommodate the lifestyle change which eating this way might entail. I know some young couples who are trying to figure out how to follow through on decisions to eat better. This book, despite its age, would be a great help.

While I am not a strict vegetarian, I have to say that I just like the kinds of foods she promotes a lot better than eating a lot of meat. So, even if you aren’t so concerned with saving the planet and conserving food resources, there are a lot of good recipes. I tried a few this year that I hadn’t made before. One of those made my unofficial list of “best recipes of the year.” That is Turkish Barley-Buttermilk Soup.” It was surprisingly good, and since you can make it with either buttermilk or yogurt I usually have all the ingredients in the house.

Recipes that I had previously marked as good include Macaroni Salad Ricotta, Whole Wheat Quick Bread, and Applesauce-Ginger Squares.

This is a 400-page book, and about 160 pages are description of how to make this work for you, and the rest is recipes.

There are about 500 recipes in the book, including main dishes to desserts. Naturally, many of them rely heavily on legumes. My family didn’t care for non-meat main dishes, so I haven’t tried as many of them as I might have, but I think I’ll try more of them this coming year. This is basic family cooking, not gourmet meals. Very good everyday eating.