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Paleo is one of those diet trends that crept into the mainstream, in a way that meant it went relatively unnoticed at first. Like many others before it, it’s a way of eating that became a massive hit over in the US and then made its way ‘across the pond’.

Paleo salmon salad

If you’re aware of what a Paleo diet entails, it could be because you have a friend who follows a Paleo diet, you’ve caught a TV documentary about it, or a customer has come into your restaurant and enquired about your Paleo-friendly offerings. Outside of the USA and Australia there are few restaurants and cafés that specialise in Paleo, though in the UK there are growing number of independent eateries that offer a Paleo menu, as well as some chain restaurants that serve relatively Paleo-friendly-food - you can find a list of Paleo-friendly places in the UK here.

The Paleo way of eating, which is based on the hunter-gatherer eating activities of our cave men ancestors, can at first seem quite restrictive so it’s unsurprising that restaurants and cafés have been slow on its uptake. Truth be told, the Paleolithic way of eating is more prescriptive about you can’t eat than what you can, so there may well be items on your menu that are already Paleo-friendly or can be made as such with just a few minor tweaks.

But before you start swapping all sandwiches for steaks in your restaurant, let’s take a look at the context of the Paleo eating trend…

The origins and explosion of Paleo

The term ‘Paleolithic’ refers to the pre-historic period before modern agriculture was implemented. Paleo followers consume only foods that would have been available before this agricultural change.

When we began cultivating grains widely we could find food more readily, which is why the Paleo diet can seem limited. Followers eat meals of meat, fish, eggs, fruits and some nuts and seeds, but exclude dairy, grains, legumes, vegetable oils and sugar. The result is an unprocessed diet that also happens to be gluten-free.

At the time of writing there are over 45,200,000 hits on Google for the term Paleo and Pinterest and Instagram are chock-full with tasty Paleo food pictures, but the diet has not always been so prevalent. It first took hold when Colorado State University Professor Loren Cordain’s book, ‘The Paleo Diet’, was published back in 2001. Following its unprecedented success, Cordain continues to speak publicly, run events and write books all about the Paleo diet, as well as managing the website thepaleodiet.com.

The scientific argument behind the Paleo diet concept is that our body has not yet had time to adjust to the changes the agricultural revolution made to the way we eat. Our metabolisms, Cordain argues, function far better when we eat in a way that mimics how our Paleolithic ancestors ate before these changes occurred. It’s a school of thought that still has its opponents, but has been steadily growing in popularity, especially since around 2011 if Google Trends search data is an indication:

Paleo now has a very strong following, and is popular with exercise enthusiasts, particularly members of the Crossfit community, due to the high-protein focus of the eating plan. Celebrities who are said to ‘be Paleo’ include Miley Cyrus and Matthew McConaughey, and the trend just keeps on growing across the world.

Google Trends data also tells us that America, Australia and New Zealand are particular Paleo hotspots, and with the appearance of restaurants like Paleo in Leamington Spa and Pure Taste in London, it’s only a matter of time before the UK joins them.

Could your restaurant go Paleo?

As the Paleo diet fits well with several other current eating trends such as foraging, local ingredient sourcing, and low-carb and gluten-free eating, offering Paleo choices might appeal to more of your customers than you think. A completely Paleo restaurant may still be too much of a leap for most regions in the UK, but testing the waters with Paleo-friendly menu options can help you to test the (grain-free) waters.

There are plenty of places to find recipe inspiration to explore the idea of adding Paleo menu options too, from the websites of British bloggers like Paleo Polly to internationally-renowned practitioners like The Paleo Chef. These sites are also particularly useful to monitor attitudes towards Paleo restaurants and ensure your Paleo-friendly offering really appeals to those you’re hoping to attract.

Have you introduced any Paleo-friendly options to your restaurant or café menu, and if so how have they been received? Will you be considering adding them if you haven’t already? Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment below or tweet us at @BunzlLockhart.


Comments

Lockhart Catering on 15 April 2015 11:32 AM

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