By Maryam Muhammad, intern with the Division of Sustainability, Summer 2018
Before I was even born, it was decided that I would be vegetarian. Fast forward 20 years later and here I am, stirring turmeric and chia seed muffin mix with one hand (recipe below) and searching for the latest nutrition breakthroughs with the other.
My version of a prank is posting a picture of myself eating a "burger" (veggie sandwich) from Five Guys on Facebook and watching my friends freak out!
My parents primarily had health in mind as the basis for our family being vegetarian. Having switched to the lifestyle in their twenties, they hopped aboard the health train early and haven’t looked back since. We lived in southern California for the first 9 years of my life, but when we moved to Middle Tennessee when I was 10, I often felt like a vegetarian in a steakhouse.
Through elementary up until high school, I was the kiddo with the crazy vegetarian lunches. I found myself constantly fielding questions about the things I ate (“No, Alicia, I don’t eat grass”) and explaining the concoctions inside my Tootsie Roll tin lunch box (“Yes, chili can be made without beef”). As frequent as these interrogations were, I felt pride in my lunch creations (I have been cooking since I can remember) and confident in the choices I continued to make.
It wasn’t until the end of high school that I learned the impact that eating more fruits and vegetables – and fewer animal products – has on the environment. While I had always focused on the human health benefits of a plant-based diet, I’m now learning the many benefits it has for the health of our planet. My internship with the Department of General Services Division of Sustainability this summer has given me the opportunity to dive into this research. Here are some highlights.
If cattle were their own nation, they would be the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHGs).[i]
Livestock production contributes nearly one-fifth of all global GHG emissions.[ii]
Sector emissions could be reduced by 70% through adopting a vegan diet and 63% for a vegetarian diet, which includes cheese, milk, and eggs.[iii]
Adoption of a vegetarian diet worldwide would save 7.3 million lives by 2050.[iv]
So it seems that I have a host of reasons to continue to make the choices that I do and to encourage others to do the same. Just as taking shorter showers, composting, and taking the bus are proven methods to reduce your impact on the environment, adopting plant-based diet – or simply cutting back on your meat consumption – can be a profound step in your individual effort toward protecting the environment.
Oh, and did I mention… it’s delicious! Below, find two of my favorite recipes for healthy, tasty 100% vegetarian treats. Bon apetit!
Vegetable Stir Fry:
1 large pan
3-4 T olive oil
1 onion diced
3 garlic cloves chopped
1 carrot chopped
1 bell pepper diced
1 large broccoli crown chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in pan at medium-hi heat until hot. Add garlic, onion, and bell pepper and reduce temp to medium. Once onions are translucent, add broccoli and carrot. Cook until broccoli and carrots are tender (about 10 mins) and add salt and pepper to taste.
Try adding these flavors:
Sweet Chili: 2 extra garlic cloves, 2 T honey, 1 T red chili paste, juice from ½ Lemon, 1 T white wine vinegar
Sesame: Substitute 1-2 T olive oil with sesame oil, 2 T honey, 1.5 T Soy Sauce, 2 t ginger, 1 T white wine vinegar
Chia Seed Muffins:
4 cups oats
4 t cinnamon
2 t nutmeg
2 t cardamom
1 T turmeric
¼ cup chia seed
1 t baking powder
½ t salt
2/3 cup of milk (of your choice)
2 t vanilla extract
¼ cup blackstrap molasses
Add anything you want: dark chocolate chips, a mashed banana, dried cranberries, dates, shredded coconut. Mix everything in a bowl, drop them in a 12 yield muffin tin, and pop them in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 20 mins. They aren’t sweet, so I substitute them for toast in the morning and top with almond butter and honey!
Join Socket and the Department of General Services as we partner with the Metro Planning Department and Tennessee Department of Health to help transform Broadway's parking spots into mini-parks, filled with seating, games, and more. Learn more about this annual tradition here: https://www.civicdesigncenter.org/events/parking-day
Socket the Dog has some helpful hints as we celebrate summer. These hot tips will help keep you and your family cool all season long!
Trees are one of the most integral components of the urban landscape. Trees sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, improve air quality, reduce soil erosion by catching precipitation in their leaf canopies, and lower air temperatures in urban areas – among many other things.
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Can you remember the last time you saw a dark night sky, full of stars and planets, in vivid detail? For many of us living in the world’s cities, the answer may be “no” or “never.” When we think of pollution, we don’t often think of the lights that line our streets and illuminate our buildings. This week is International Dark Sky Week, so let’s dive into some related questions: what is light pollution, what are its effects, and how can we manage it?
Our health and the health of our planet are inextricably intertwined. When we take a walk in the woods or gaze at a natural scene, our stress levels decrease, and our mental health improves. When temperatures and humidity exceed certain thresholds, incidence of heatstroke and heat exhaustion skyrocket. When we consume fresh, whole foods and pure water, our physical health and energy improve. When air quality is compromised by pollution, cases of asthma flare up.
Whether you celebrated Punxsutawney Phil’s findings this year or not, it is likely that Nashville will face a bit more freezing weather. In preparation, the Department of General Services Division of Sustainability wishes to remind employees and residents about best practices for de-icing (the process of removing snow and/or ice from a surface). Safety is the most important consideration for de-icing and snow clearing efforts, but it is important to remember that de-icing materials impact more than the snow or ice they melt. How and when we use these materials is essential to the health of our environment.
The most effective de-icing agents have chemical formulas containing chloride and acetate. Salt (NaCl) is the most common. But others, such as magnesium chloride (MgCl2) and potassium acetate (CH3CO2K) are common examples too. Unfortunately, these extraordinary “melters” have negative effects on the environment. Some of these negative effects include preventing plants from absorbing moisture, leaching heavy metals, and creating algae blooms. Although researchers continue to pursue a completely safe alternative to those formulas containing chloride and acetate, none yet exists. Brands that advertise eco-friendly products often still contain large proportions of chloride or acetate; or, these brands are not effective at temperatures below freezing!
So what CAN you do?
1. Wear Proper Shoes
Boots with a solid toe and bottom tread will help increase your grip on icy surfaces.
2. Shovel First
Shovel snow early and often; then decide whether to use a de-icing agent. If you must use a de-icer, your shoveling will not have been in vain. De-icers work best on thin layers of precipitation.
3. Don’t Over-apply
Use just enough. A general rule is 2 lbs. of de-icer for every 500 sq. ft. One pound of de-icer is approximately one heaping 12 oz. coffee mug.
4. Place Carefully
Apply materials only where needed and keep de-icing materials away from plants and foliage.
5. Clean up and Reuse
Sweep up left over salt and store it properly for reuse. This saves money and keeps unused product from washing into streams and rivers, where it can negatively impact the aquatic ecosystem.
Material for this blog was compiled from the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies’ 2010 report, Road Salt: Moving Toward the Solution. Follow the link to the report below for further reading: http://www.caryinstitute.org/sites/default/files/public/reprints/report_road_salt_2010.pdf
Blog author, Mr. Jake Rachels, is an intern with the Division of Sustainability.