The Book That Made Me

The Book That Made Me: Diet for a Small Planet

The book I’ve chosen is Frances Moore Lappe’s Diet for a Small Planet, which was first published back in 1971. I first read this book in 1984 after receiving it as a birthday gift. The book caused me to rethink my diet and to research agricultural practices. Initially, because of the book, I gave up eating red meat and pork, and then, based on further research, I discontinued eating poultry. I wasn’t expecting this book to cause this shift in my diet as I didn’t have any health issues or reasons to make changes in what I ate. The reaction to what the book said and my desire to learn more about nutrition and diet in the United States turned out to be a lifelong pursuit for myself and my family. I raised my children in a vegetarian household and while they ate meat outside of the home, we didn’t purchase or eat meat while they were growing up. Now grown, one of my children is vegan while the other eats healthy foods which include meat.

The book meant and means a lot to me as it led me to be a more discriminating consumer of all things not just food. I take to heart the book’s guidance on understanding how purchases in the wealthy western world can dramatically affect others who manufacture, grow or raise the products. The sections of the book on the detrimental environmental impacts that raising beef has worldwide and the United States’ emphasis on meat consumption still startle me. If folks inquire regarding my vegetarian status, I do mention this book as one that guided my decision. I still have my original copy, although it is worn and the cover is torn. There have been new editions and changes to the original text and updated nutritional information. In fact, Lappe’s daughter is now a published author and works for transparency in food marketing and nutrition. However, for sentimental reasons, I will always keep my worn but transformative-for-me copy of Diet for a Small Planet.

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“The Book That Made Me” is a blog mini-series about books that have changed our lives. Interested in writing about a book that has changed your life? Email: