5 Staples for Beginning an SOS Free Vegan Diet

fresh produce

CW: Disordered Eating

Recently, I learned about what’s called an SOS free vegan diet. It’s a diet that restricts salt, oil, and sugar while still eating vegan! This kind of eating is especially recommended for people with certain health issues, like diabetes or kidney dysfunction. And while I don’t strictly follow this lifestyle, I became interested in figuring out how I can limit salt, oil, and sugar in my diet.

Since the end of high school 5 years ago, I struggled with a self-diagnosed eating disorder. I quit sports, became super depressed, and gained a lot of weight that continued into my freshman year of college. I would binge eat like crazy to the point where I began purging everything I could at the end of the day, and practically starving myself the next few days. I wasn’t officially diagnosed until last year, but once I started my second year of college I became vegetarian, exercised more, and tried to control my binge eating and repair my relationship with food. Sugar and oil were my main problems, since when I binged, 9 times out of 10 it was on something sweet or fried.

When I finally transitioned to veganism, I felt the best I ever had. I still sometimes binge, but I don’t punish myself anymore and try to hold myself more accountable by vocalizing my struggles. After reading up on the SOS free vegan diet, I’m more motivated to try to better myself and want to be able to share any tips I’m beginning to incorporate in my own eating! I also think it’s important to talk about some of the things we go through with food and how we can create a larger support system for each other through conversation.

I’m not an expert or a doctor, but I think this diet could be worth looking into if you have certain specific health concerns. Of course, consult with your doctor before trying anything new, and try not to quit salt, oil, and sugar all at once. If you’re considering the SOS free vegan diet, look over some of these tips and find other resources to help you make the switch!

1. Replace added, refined sugars with agave nectar or coconut sugar

Switching to agave or coconut sugar, while still not necessarily the best for you (it’s still an added sweetener, after all), will help you reduce more harmful forms of added sugar in your diet. The best possible option is just sticking to naturally sweet fruits, but if you ever want to bake, make homemade granola, or can’t stand black coffee, having other options is good! Just be sure to research the best sugar sub for you specifically, and always use in moderation.

When I don’t want to use actual sugar, I’ll sub in just a little bit of agave. It’s still a sweetener, so I’m not heavy-handed with it.

2. Look for salt-free seasonings like garlic powder, cayenne pepper, rubbed sage, cumin, etc.

Obviously, it’ll be noticeable at first when you stop using salt. But all seasonings are important to use, no matter what kind of lifestyle you have. Here’s an opportunity to branch out with your flavors, allowing you to create your own salt-free spice blends, experiment with unconventional flavors, and let the mad scientist in you be free! My go-to’s right now are rubbed sage, ground ginger, and paprika.

I basically use these three spices in every single meal. Sage is my favorite herb at the moment, and combined with paprika and cayenne, it gives my meals a savory aspect I sometimes miss!

3. Consider investing in an air fryer

Yes, I know air fryers were very trendy gadgets that seemed useless if you have an oven (not gonna lie, that was my exact thought process). BUT they are actually really cool and super helpful in eliminating oil! My roommates have one and you can pretty much “fry” anything in there with zero oil. Just generously season vegetables or tofu, pop ’em in there, and you’ll end up with oil-free crispy deliciousness.

Ignore my reflection in the picture, but this is the air fryer my roommates have that we’ll sometimes use to make fries or recently, spicy cauliflower.

4. Find your favorite flavors in fresh vegetables, fruits, and herbs

When you stop using salt and sugar, it’s natural to worry that your food is going to be extremely bland and sad. But sometimes we can forget that the ingredients we cook with can provide strong fresh flavors. Imagine some fresh rosemary on top of a savory plank of eggplant. Or aromatic lemongrass to complement some slightly bitter bell peppers. I’m drooling just thinking about it! This is a good opportunity to dive into your cooking like a professional chef who uses only the finest natural flavors in their produce. Have fun with it!

Really taking advantage of any fresh produce I can get my hands on makes a huge difference in the meals I make. You’ll start to notice more and more the individual flavors each veggie has to offer flavor-wise!

5. Try meal prepping

Meal prepping isn’t specific to one diet — it’s something literally anyone can try. But there are some specific benefits to it when it comes to eating an SOS free vegan diet. This allows you to monitor all of the ingredients in everything you eat. You’re in control, so you have more knowledge of what it is you’re actually eating. You’ll save tons of money just by eating more homemade meals. And you’ll be that much healthier going without tons of salt, oil, and sugar. Research some fun SOS free vegan recipes and go to town!

Get your hands on a couple of containers and prep away! I like to have certain staples on hand, even if it’s not a complete meal. It helps save time on otherwise lengthy cooking time.

. . .

These are just a few of the things from an SOS free vegan diet I’m implementing myself, but you don’t have to stop after them. Continue your research, buy some cookbooks, set goals for yourself! Like all new diets, starting out can be difficult. But even if you’re trying this one on your own, I’ll be on your team rooting for you!

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