By Jill Wendholt Silva

The Kansas City Star

Sure, Meatless Monday may be a trendy slogan, but it recycles an old idea.

I was reminded of America’s long history of dietary restrictions as I toured City Hall in Philadelphia. In a corridor by the Conservation Room, I spotted a black-and-white photo proclaiming: “Food Will Win The War. Don’t Waste It.”

During World War I, the U.S. Food Administration urged families to reduce consumption of key nutrients to bolster the war efforts. The government instituted what became known as “Meatless Monday” and “Wheatless Wednesday.”

The campaign was reinstated during World War II. President Harry Truman continued the program after the war as a way to help feed Europeans who were hungry and had little to eat. The campaign was retrofitted in 2003 to encourage average Americans to curb their meat consumption for better health.

Why choose Monday as the day to go meatless? We often do our healthiest eating at the beginning of the week, experts say.

The Kansas City Star’s Rustic Cheese Baked Polenta With Mushrooms is a tasty meatless and wheat-free dish that offers home cooks an opportunity to explore new ingredients and flavor combinations. Add a crisp green salad to serve as a side dish brunch — or dinner on Monday, or any day of the week.