Thinking Citizen Blog — “The Godmother of Plant-based Living” (Francis Moore Lappe)

Thinking Citizen Blog — Wednesday is Climate Change, the Environment, and Sustainability Day

Today’s Topic: “The Godmother of Plant-based Living” (Francis Moore Lappe)

It’s not often I read a newspaper article on any topic and have my jaw drop in awe. Such was the case this week. It was in the New York Times and written by Steven Kurutz. The subject was the author of “Diet for a Small Planet” (1971), one of the most influential books in the history of the environmental movement and of eating generally. The book has sold 3 million copies and a 50th edition came out this September. And, thank you blog — I had not heard of Lappe until I tore out the article based on the eye-catching title. I’m glad I did. Today, some excerpts from the Kurutz article, quotes from Lappe (from the “Goodreads” website), and biographical tidbits gleaned from Wikipedia and elsewhere. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.

THE OPENING PARAGRAPH IS JUST ONE LONG SENTENCE AND A REAL TREAT (and the next few sentences are pretty good, too)

1. I usually don’t like long sentences with many dependent clauses but this is one of those exceptions that proves the rule. Please share any unusually long sentences you have ever cherished so much that you copied them into a journal, posted them on the refrigerator, or memorized them.

2. “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.”

3. And the follow up paragraph: “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.”

NB: And here is paragraph #3: “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?”

QUOTES FROM LAPPE: Wow! This woman is a genius!

1. “Every aspect of our lives is, in a sense, a vote for the kind of world wewant to live in.”

2. “Hope is not wishful thinking. It’s not a temperament we’re born with. It is a stance toward life that we can choose…or not. The real question for me, though, is whether hope is effective, whether it produces or isjust where I hide to ease my own pain.”

3. “Hope is not what we find in evidence, it’s what we become in action. ”

NB: “For freedom is not the capacity to do whatever we please; freedom is the capacity to make intelligent choices.”


1.“Which brings us around to her final hamburger, in 1971.”

2. “Ms. Lappé was expecting her first child. As she put it, “women who are pregnant get certain cravings,” so she found her way to a joint called the Smokehouse. Munching on a charbroiled burger, Ms. Lappé looked up, and there, walking through the door, was the man who was helping her edit her book.”

3. “The most embarrassing moment of my life,” Ms. Lappé said laughing again. “I felt like such a fake. I was so humiliated. And that was my last meat.”

NB: The photo above is of Steve Kurutz, author of “Like a Rolling Stone — The Strange Life of a Tribute Band” (Random House, 2008).

FOOTNOTE — More on the Life and Vision of Francis Moore Lappe

1. Born in Pendleton, Oregon, grew up in Fort Worth, Texas attended Earlham College, a Quaker school in Indiana with a “strong focus on Quaker values such as integrity, a commitment to peace and social justice, mutual respect, and community decision making.” She did some graduate study at University of California, Berkeley.

2. Has published 19 books and received 19 honorary doctorates — from large universities (University of Michigan) to small (Allegheny College). Her works have been translated into 15 languages.

3. A key concept of hers is that of “living democracy.” She argues that democracy should be thought of as a way of life not just a form of government. Hallelujah!

NB: “Democracy is not only what we do in the voting booth but involves our daily choices of what we buy and how we live. She believes that only by “living democracy” can we effectively solve today’s social and environmental crises.” (Wikipedia) Amen!

The Godmother of ‘Plant-Based’ Living

Frances Moore Lappé Quotes (Author of Diet for a Small Planet)

Frances Moore Lappé

Small Planet Institute, Cambridge, MA

About — Steven Kurutz


PDF with headlines — Google Drive


Please share the coolest thing you learned in the last week related to climate change or the environment. Or the coolest, most important thing you learned in your life related to climate change that the rest of us may have missed. Your favorite chart or table perhaps…

This is your chance to make some one’s day. Or to cement in your own mind something that you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than otherwise about something dear to your heart.