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Frances Moore Lappé speaks at a New York City event in the late 1970s. Photo Courtesy of Frances Moore Lappé Fifty years ago, when world hunger often made news, Frances Moore Lappé decided to find out why. Her answer started a food revolution, forced a global examination of how humans used the planet’s resources and gained a key role in the burgeoning environmental movement. Diet for a Small Planet , a Ballantine paperback published in 1971, argued that the prevailing wisdom was wrong. A population explosion straining the planet to its breaking point had not created world hunger. There was more than enough potential food for everyone. Humans, especially those in wealthy societies, were squandering it. They were growing grain for farm animals on fertile earth that could grow a healthier, "plant-based" diet for far more people. Our stories. Your inbox. Every weekend. Lappé’s book, with vegetarian recipes offering the "complete proteins" of meat, spawned untold numbers of "eco-conscious" food consumers and presaged the toll widespread cattle farming would take on the earth (before widespread deforestation and climate change were causes for alarm). Her fundamental argument was radical at the time—switching to plant-based food systems could solve world hunger, […]

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