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.