This year marks the third year that we decided to become vegetarian, and though we will leave our reasoning for another post we decided to put together this blog about some of the hurdles we have come across when finding healthier meat alternatives.

Being Vegetarian, time poor and still trying to be healthy…

… is pretty much what we have been dealing with for the past few years. We spend our days either out and exploring or locked up in our rooms working away at our laptops which can take a toll on our eating habits. We try our best to book Airbnbs with kitchens or hotels that have kitchenettes but the biggest issue is not spending enough time at a place to justify a full veggie and fruit shop.

This results in our 2-3 day stay consisting of quick meals, microwavable meals or snacks with as little as possible ingredients.

Importance of being a healthy vegetarian

There are multiple health benefits in choosing a vegetarian diet, an increase in consumption of unsaturated fat, magnesium, as well as fibre and vitamin C and E. This diet more than often leads to having lower blood pressure and results in being less likely to have heart disease.

However, being vegetarian doesn’t necessarily result in a straightforward road to being healthier, it can take time. We found that in the first year we were eating a lot of carbs as we struggled to find a balance in meat alternatives.

What was the lightbulb moment?

For me personally I felt that when I looked at meals with a different eye it helped with finding alternatives. For my entire life I was brought up on meat being the centre piece of a meal and veggies as a side dish or a complimentary item. When I saw veggies as our main there was a lightbulb moment in my mind.

We started preparing meals around veggies, so with meat out of the equation we pushed carbs to the title of “side dish”. Creativity increased in our dinners and we slowly started to venture out into meat alternatives like tofu and what some would call “fake meat”. You know those meat-free chicken strip solutions.

In 2017 there has been an influx of brand “fake meat’ products which has increased competition and made dinners slightly harder to shop for. Which meat-free burger patty is healthier than the other? So how do we keep track of whether what we are buying is healthy or not?

Using the Health Star Rating system

If you are in a rush and just looking at putting together a quick and easy meal, reading the back of a packet for nutritional value is probably the last thing on your mind. Thankfully a national Health Star Rating system has been implemented as an easy and fast way to compare healthy alternatives.

This labelling system gives a 1/2 star to 5 star rating right on the front of the packet which makes our shops so much easier and quicker. The numbers are based on nutritional value and compared to the food standards set by Australia and New Zealand.

This system has been a life saver for us whilst we are back at home preparing for the next trip or travelling around Australia exploring our own backyard. We personally use it on every shop as it can be so easy to identify what’s the healthiest choice to put together a nice and easy meal.

Have you ever used the Health Star Rating system when shopping? Let us know below.

Stephen and Jess signoff

Thank you to Health Star Rating for sponsoring and supporting Flying The Nest. Our opinion is, as always, our own.


You Might Also Like

  • I totally agree! The hardest part for me though, is trying to find alternatives in countries that are entirely meat orientated. When I was recently in Iceland, there was little to no fresh produce in the supermarkets, and finding a vegetarian meal was incredibly difficult. It’s all part of the fun though right? 😉

    • This is so true. It can be quite hard when you are overseas! On top of the language barrier to try and read the nutrients in food! I didn’t imagine that Iceland would be like that? wow thanks for letting us know!!

  • Ana Maria Ghica

    Hah, I understand your pain, although I do eat fish a couple of times per week. The rating system seems very useful, indeed. I found some areas in the Philippines challenging, as fried chicken was their fav thing to eat, and I came back with minus 5 kg. 😀

  • Kate Klaus Kelly

    I love my proteins too much to become a vegetarian. But I do eat a lot of vegetarian meals, too.

  • I am so impressed, I am not sure I could go 100% vegetarian but I do not eat pork, I am slowly getting there!

  • Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle

    I love this idea. I’ve never seen this rating system before, but I can see how it would help me buy more healthy foods.

  • The star-rating system looks totally convenient. My bff went vegetarian about 4 or 5 years ago and hasn’t looked back since. I should show her this post!

  • Bill Sweeney

    I have such respect for anyone who goes vegan or vegetarian. I couldn’t do it. I love meat too much.

  • Danik Bates

    Totally agree with you on this post. It is hard for me to eat healthier and I am trying to become a veggie but the move from c**p food to healthy food is a slow process for me and hopefully I will get there. Also finding it that eating healthy food costs more than junk food (well, it does here in the UK) :O

  • I am vegan and can relate to many of the points you brought up! I almost forget that most people don’t eat the way I do.

  • Catvills

    I can relate. I am not a vegetarian, but I have been avoiding meat, gallstone issues. It is tough finding alternatives.

  • Betty Boiron

    I can’t imagine being a vegetarian because I don’t like the protein alternatives, but power to you! I am impressed that despite how difficult it is you stick to it!

  • Kathy

    I can agree with this. I have tried to be vegetarian back when I was just getting out of high school. It can be really difficult too. Sometimes I think about going back to trying it again.

  • Lisa Marie Heath

    I’m not a vegetarian but a very close friend of mine is. Whenever we have her over, we look for a vegetarian meal to prepare that everyone can enjoy. At first it was difficult for my bf and I because we didn’t know what was ok and what wasn’t, and what alternatives were. Now we kind of have it down and can whip things up easier

  • Shannon Graham

    Health Star is amazing. It definitely was hard to get started. I rarely wanted to eat it felt like.

  • Quorn was my favorite brand when I was a vegetarian! I started eating meat again for health reasons, but I should add it back into my diet again. I loved their foods!

  • Phoebe Hendricks

    I don’t think that I could ever fully become vegetarian (I love me some meat!). We have been focusing on being more creative with our dishes and increasing our veggies. It’s been fun!

  • Lynn Dee

    I’ve never tried the Health Star Rating system. This is actually the first time that I’ve heard about it. I’ve been trying to eat healthy and serve healthy food to my family. Will have to look into that.

  • Dawn Gibson-Thigpen

    I am not officially a vegetarian, but I can live without meat.LOL. Sometimes I go weeks without eating any at all. I love all of the vegetarian and vegan options.