The Godmother of ‘Plant-Based’ Living

Her daughter, Anna Lappé, 47, who is carrying on her mother’s work as an author and sustainable food advocate, said that when she thinks of her childhood home, “I can picture tall glass Mason jars filled with beans and lentils.”

The family shopped in bulk at a food co-op, and Ms. Lappé cooked simple, healthy dishes like the carrot soup, freezing the leftovers for quick weeknight meals. Fifty years later, Ms. Lappé still cooks that way. (And she still has the inner glow of a health food devotee.)

But while the family lived in crunchy Berkeley, it must be said that Ms. Lappé was no hippie. She grew up in a literal cow town, Fort Worth, where she was a football cheerleader, and her activism took root at her small Quaker college, Earlham. Her stylish, put-together appearance on TV and in college auditoriums made it hard to dismiss her as a California kook or scold. As Ms. Lappé’s Twitter bio states, she has always viewed herself as “hope monger.” (“It gets more challenging every year,” she said with a laugh.)

Sitting in her kitchen, with its same glass jars of grains and beans on the shelves, Ms. Lappé reflected on her long-ago conversion. “Not eating meat, I call it my act of rebel sanity,” she said. “It was like opening the door. The world of taste, color, texture is in the plant world. I tell people, it wasn’t a sacrifice. It was a discovery.”

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *