How easy is it eating paleo in the UK?
During any given week, I read many blog articles about eating paleo. I read recipes, restaurant reviews and nutritional articles. Common denominators relating all these wonderful articles are that they are (generally speaking) written and produced in the US and in particular, somewhere in California, where paleo is massive, and there are a plethora of paleo cafes, snack bars and restaurants.
Devastatingly for me, I don’t live in glorious California! I live in the beautiful sunny county of Yorkshire UK, in a small village near Harrogate and Leeds.
Yorkshire is an amazing county, full of wonderful food and excellent regional suppliers; especially if you know where to look! http://www.yorkshire.com/
You can make some delicious 100% paleo meals when you take the time to go shopping and carefully select fresh, unprocessed food from these suppliers. Preparation is the key! Equally, if you have the time and are prepared to spend a bit of cash, there are many wonderful restaurants that offer organic meats, game, seasonal vegetables, the list goes on.
What I am writing about today however, is when your fast paced life gets in the way, and seeks to derail your paleo eating habits. All of us have times when we need to grab some food, in 30 minutes, food that needs to be well priced, and quickly eaten.
I really struggle with finding tasty, paleo options in these types of situations, and have found myself snacking on nuts and green tea from Pret, as a lunch alternative; or have simply found myself falling completely off the proverbial wagon.
Quick lunch and Cost Effective Dinning
Sometime life dictates that you don’t have time to prep your breakfast or lunch before work; or you want to join friends, after work that you haven’t seen in ages, for a quick catch up and a bite to eat. In these instances you end up having to hit cafes, bars and restaurants (which you wouldn’t always necessarily choose,) in search of your daily food fix.
If you’re determined to stick to paleo, and not have a ‘cheat meal,’ sometimes life can be extremely difficult.
In Harrogate, Leeds and the surrounding areas, eating out at reasonably priced, light lunch/ ‘food in a rush’ establishments, can be massively difficult for paleo followers. Menus can be extremely limited in offering non grain, non legume, non dairy offerings. When ordering for example no rice with your coconut chicken curry (Wagamma’s) staff can look at you as if you’ve gone slightly crazy.
My job takes me to London pretty much every week, and in London, I always find it much easier to grab a quick paleo lunch. The London food climate is vaster and more international than its Leeds counterparts. This isn’t slagging off some of the amazing food establishments in Leeds. The point I am making is that due to London’s size, relative wealth and its work culture, access to street food with paleo options or markets dotted around the city and the plethora of flagship innovative quick lunch restaurants, means that our Southern friends have easier lives when it comes to choosing to eat paleo in a rush, with little prep.
Following 100% paleo, living up North can sometimes feel that daily eating needs to be planned with military precision.
The paleo way of eating is becoming increasingly popular in the UK and my life over the next few years I very much hope is going to become easier. Awareness is increasing, and it’s becoming more ‘acceptable,’ (has anyone ever said to you ‘you don’t need to be on a diet!!’)
People on the subject of paleo, now in my experience are curious, and genuinely interested, and are getting involved, without ‘paleo’ being forced upon them.
Often patterns emerge in relation to something being ‘big’ in the US, slowly making its way across the pond to London, and then disseminating into the provinces in the UK. This was certainly my experience with supper clubs, of which I was one of Yorkshire’s first supper club hosts.
To my mind, although many people have heard about ‘paleo’ or ‘caveman eating’ (as my friend put it last night) paleo isn’t yet big time the UK (just yet….)
The word is slowly getting out there, but, for now the small suburban town where I work offers the following lunch options:-
2. Pizza Express
3. Sandwich Shops/ Delis which serve paninis
4. McDonalds/ KFC
5. A couple of restaurants (Including the ahead of the times restaurant and bar Kobe, Ark Group, which is the only place (*I am aware of) in Leeds which offers a Crossfit Burger and Brunch option!)
And I don’t see this list of options changing anytime soon.
From the list, over 60% of these places are specifically prohibited when following paleo. In the cafe bars and restaurants if you look carefully at a menu and ask nicely at some of the restaurants or sandwich bars, you are able to modify a typical salad or sandwich into being something that resembles ‘paleo’ BUT food is generally less appetising and lack lustre, as people don’t get how someone can make appealing food without having a ‘carb’ option for example. (* By carbs I mean pasta, noodle, bread, rice.) Heck, my own husband generally speaking still struggles with getting this concept.
MY PALEO VISION FOR THE FUTURE
We have a long way to come with the growth of paleo here in the UK and in terms of paleo eating out; London is leading the way forward. This will be followed by City Centre establishments, and then perhaps the small shops on my high street one day may follow suit.
Within 2-5 years certainly in City Centres, I dream that paleo options will be the norm!
I do love cooking and preparing my own delicious paleo food; I love being creative in the kitchen, and I love shopping at many of our amazing butchers, fishmongers, health food stores and farm shops (to name but a few.)
But on the flip side of the coin, there are days when I wish it was easier to eat paleo. On my bad days when I am not properly prepared.
More paleo availability on menus! More paleo options! Make paleo life that little bit easier! With better options on menus, people are able to make better choices!
Steps moving this concept forward are as follows:-
- On menus, alongside (v) marks vegetarian (g) marks gluten free and (lf) marks low fat, we will have (pal) for paleo options!
- More paleo restaurants and cafes, with tastey food! Super brands, offering paleo- for example, Leon, using organic, locally sourced ingredients. http://www.startups.co.uk/healthy-restaurant-chain-leon-to-launch-franchise-model.html
- Processed food on our supermarket shelves will become less and less popular, with the UK’s continued food revival, championing locally sourced ingredients over ‘air miles’ products.
It’s a tough paleo world out there folks, and most of the time, when you’re prepared, being paleo perfect is a pleasure, it is effortless and wholly fulfilling. The paleo landscape out there is changing; is very interesting, exciting, who knows what the next 5 years will have in store.
- Restaurant Review:- Kobe, Leeds (paleopolly.com)
- Reds True BBQ and the Doughnut Burger (paleopolly.com)
- A Guided Tour of Millies, Fine Food and Local Produce Store, Leeds (paleopolly.com)