When the "Meatless Monday" campaign first launched, it was a movement promoted by the U.S. Food Administration as a way to encourage families to lower their consumption of foods necessary to the war effort. Circa 2003, the once a week vegetarian trend once again picked up steam thanks to a former ad exec turned health advocate. Now "Meatless Monday" is a handy catch phrase for various websites looking to pick up readership and it is a smart move for individuals looking to boost dental health and for keeping food expenses on target.
Ask a vegetarian what diet is best, and they will say one devoid of animal food product however meat-eaters don't agree. Instead, carnivores opt to get many of their essential nutrients in a diet filled with chicken, beef, fish (rich in omega-3 oils), dairy foods and other animal by-products. Despite the different views of the food chain, statistics from the American Meat Institute indicate that approximately 20 percent of all Americans are now tapping into the Meatless Monday craze and focusing on certain plant based foods can help provide vitamins and nutrients that can help ward off dental problems such as tooth decay, gum disease and even oral cancer.
Save a Cow, Eat More Beans and Nuts
Many things have been said about beans, but regardless of legumes being the 'musical fruit' they are the staple for many animal free diets and are an important ingredient to ensure sufficient levels of protein, calcium and other nutrition essential for dental health. Carnivores unfamiliar with beans and nuts will be pleased to know that they are easy to prepare, delicious to eat and cost pennies per serving (substantially less money than any type of healthful cuts of meat).
In regards to dental health, protein is an essential nutrient for ensuring cellular function and for carrying enzymes essential for naturally warding off dental problems and is a major component of the Nutrition Plate produced by the United State Department of Agriculture (http://www.choosemyplate.gov/foodgroups/proteinfoods.html). Calcium is important as it supports "blood clotting, sending nerve signals, releasing hormones and enzymes, as well as muscle and blood vessel contraction and relaxation," and allows for mineralization of human bones (1-800-DENTIST). Beans (including but not limited to black beans, soy beans, chickpeas, peanut butter and split peas) have plenty of both oral health boosting compounds.
Regardless of what type of bean or nut is used as a Meatless Monday ingredient, consumers should choose unsalted ingredients to keep sodium levels at bay. Some recipe options include:
- Szechuan Noodles as the sauce features the nutty goodness of both peanut butter and tahini (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/szechuan-noodles-recipe/index.html). For an additional boost, consumers should use a whole grain pasta and add some steamed broccoli, yum!
- Banana Black Bean Empanadas (http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipes/10935?section=) are a delicious spin on traditional on classic Argentinean pastry. The flavor is a bit sweet and spicy, and the black beans seamlessly blend to make a delicious hand-held edible delight.
- Homemade Vegetarian Chili (like the classic from the Moosewood restaurant in Ithaca, New York [http://recipeland.com/recipe/v/Moosewood-Vegetarian-Chili-20786] is packed with kidney beans, whole grains, vegetables and flavor. Even meat eaters will adore this recipe.