When I first read about the paleo diet I was puzzled. In the extreme.
I’d never heard of it of course. Why would I in my sheltered vegetable patch?
I read these absolutely glowing evangelical reviews. This, apparently, was the only way to eat.
Fresh food, preferably not full of nasty chemicals, steroids and all the rest of it, lots of good old-fashioned meaty protein, and fish, and poultry etc etc. None of those fattening boring old carbs like rice, bread, pasta, potatoes.
Something was ringing a bell. Wait! I have it. Exactly the diet I was brought up on. I was paleo and Oh So Trendy before I even knew it.
Caveat: this is not a nutritional post at all. Just a minor observation on people’s desire to follow ‘diets’ instead of deciding for themselves what they want to eat.
I certainly don’t think my mother dished up our food every week, thinking ‘Gotta be Paleo, Paleo,’ every day.
But, from my paleo-ignorant perspective, it seems it was pretty paleo to me.
The main course was obviously always meat ie beef, lamb, pork (not so much pork), alternatively it was chicken, duckling, grouse, pheasant, hare, rabbit, venison. Occasionally we had fish for a main course – haddock, halibut, salmon, plaice or Dover sole. Sometimes we would have a fish course (one of the above) followed by a meat course.
Potatoes, bread and pasta were eschewed. Legumes? Ok, my dad did like broad beans, but there were certainly no dried ones, apart from the odd few peas cooked with the hugest piece of ham ever.
A meal was not a meal without a HUGE piece of meat.
Hell’s teeth, or even sabre-toothed tigers. We would have been the toughest cavepersons of all time.
Oh, and the dogs ate raw best mince. Just thought I would throw that one in too. Because dogs do primal/paleo except it is called RAW. Like photos.
So what gripes me about the whole paleo thing? Well, it is obvious really. If you want to eat dead animals – and that’s your choice – why would you want them to be full of junk?
Similarly what veg/salad/fruit you choose to eat. But you don’t need a trendy diet to tell you that eating food full of crap is bad for you. Or do you?
Back when I was a kid we didn’t use salt, sugar, refined oils or processed foods. Hmm, does John Lusty’s turtle soup count as processed?
When I first picked my puzzled path through paleo/primal, it was actually via a very savvy friend who has diabetes and is totally up on diet. She was somewhat ambivalent about the paleo thing.
Sometime later I mentioned it to another friend, who thought the main problem with it was the imagery, ie the ghastly macho cave-hunting stuff. She suggested I critique that aspect rather than the food.
But really, I can’t even be bothered with that. The naivety with which people embrace fashionable diets leaves me totally cold. This just sounds like a justification for a high-protein meat-based diet. I am sure it wasn’t the invention of the Meat and Livestock Commission after the UK BSE crisis, but someone revived it from somewhere given that it first gained publicity in the mid 1970s (according to wiki) and has suddenly become The. Diet. Of. Choice.
‘Darling, I eat Pilates and go to Paleo classes,’ or something like that. The two alliterate rather nicely together don’t they? Paleo and Pilates.
I don’t eat meat because I don’t want to eat dead animals. They don’t need to suffer and die for me to eat. I prefer fresh vegetables because I think they are better (and usually cheaper) than buying something frozen or tinned. I use pulses and soy/wheat products because they are cheap and full of protein.
I don’t like salt or sugar, I add minimum salt to food.
I cook my own food because I like it. I can make better and cheaper meals than buying prepared junk from the supermarket. Why on earth would I do that? I don’t want to eat expensive rubbish.
I also don’t need anyone to tell me how to eat. Or that Diet 1 is better than Diet 2 for whatever loopy reason.
However you look at it, this is an exclusive, expensive, snobbish diet. (A bit like my parents were). How on earth can people on limited incomes live on a free-range organic-based diet? Having recently looked at the price of even non-free-range non-organic meat I nearly had a non-paleo heart attack.
What more is there to say?
Oh, my meat-eating father on his paleo diet – that he had never even heard of – died of colo-rectal cancer in his mid 70s. Before that he had high blood pressure and was overweight. Symptoms of a paleo diet, and/or an affluent meat-eating western one (what’s the difference?)
And my mother developed type 2 diabetes, also had high blood pressure, had a minor stroke, and probably had depression for all I know. Also symptoms of a paleo diet.
My Spanish neighbours are now in their 80s, eat very little meat, lots of fresh veg, and loads of legumes, bread, rice and pasta.
My non-RAW food dogs have lived into their teens.
Wiki link here
Interesting vegetarian take on paleo here
A paleo eater’s perspective here