The caveman diet

With healthy eating in and fast food on its way out, we meet the restaurateurs providing the Paleo diet to a growing number of diners

Four years ago Berlin opened its doors to one of the world’s first Paleo restaurants, Sauvage. The French word for ‘savage’ or ‘wild’, the trendy café was one of the first in Europe to follow the Paleolithic cuisine.

Taking inspiration from the Stone Age it serves food that was accessible to our hunter-gatherer ancestors more than two million years ago. Processed foods such as cheese, bread or sugar are out, but natural ingredients such as, meat, fish, vegetables, fruits and nuts are most definitely in.

The concept has proved to be more than a fad diet. As Sauvage’s owner Boris Leite-Poco told Spiegel Online, “Many people think the Paleolithic diet is just some hipster trend, but it's a worldwide phenomenon.”

Just last year saw the opening of the UK’s first Paleo restaurant – Pure Taste. Holly Redman, a nutritional therapist and its chef, says she wanted people to see free-from food as a mouth-watering way of eating that leaves the diner feeling less bloated and more energised, rather than an uninspiring dietary restriction.

Dubai as a city with a constant influx of new people and knowledge has created a greater understanding of the Paleo diet as the cornerstone of the healthy lifestyle

Sam Sayadan, Owner of Cycle Bistro, Dubai

“The premise of Pure Taste is one that combines a passion for healthy living with high-quality dining and premium flavours,” explains Holly. “We create dishes around the foods you can eat, rather than the foods you can’t.”

From breadsticks made from ground almonds, salted caramel ice-cream whipped from coconut cream, and a cheese formed of nuts, the list is endless.

The Paleo diet has also taken hold in Dubai. Leading the pack is Dubai’s first Paleo restaurant, the Cycle Bistro, with their bike shop and café environment. A love of cycling and natural foods prompted the Emirati Paleo enthusiast and cyclist Khalid Al Zarooni and Sam Sayadan to open the bistro last year.

Offering a fully equipped workshop for repairs and accessories, The Cycle Hub provides a place for cyclists to socialise – and grab a healthy bite to eat while they’re there.  

“One of the main aims of The Cycle Bistro is to compliment The Cycle Hub by offering a healthy selection of drinks, snacks and meals for not only the avid cyclists, but for the wider community," says Sam.

On the menu are tasty burgers, grilled salmon, and the chef’s specialty salads. Sam says he has noticed a rise in those seeking Paleo options over the past year.

Rashi Protein Bake Shop Dubai
Rashi Chowdhary had the innovative idea of creating the UAE's first healthy-eating online bakery

“Dubai is made up of a diverse culture of people which in many cases rice, bread and fast-food are a part of their everyday lifestyle. As a city with a constant influx of new people and knowledge, this has created a greater understanding of the Paleo diet as the cornerstone of the healthy lifestyle.”

The Protein Bake Shop is another startup that has been inspired by the movement. Rashi Chowdhary's online bakery is the UAE’s first and only grain, gluten-free and Paleo-friendly of its kind. She offers a selection of cookies, cakes and biscottis. The snacks are low in carbohydrates, but rich in protein and natural nutrients.

"The Protein Bake Shop is my way of making deserts as healthy as they can possibly be, so we can enjoy them guilt-free," Rashi said.

In the treats, sugar is replaced by dates, figs and honey, while gluten-rich grains are switched for gluten-free flours.

Rashi, a nutritionist for five years, was inspired by young teenagers struggling with negative body image issues and adults stuck in a rut of yo-yo dieting.

She believes there is demand for the Paleo lifestyle in Dubai, one that is set to grow.

“There is a demand for this type of lifestyle. People's perceptions about health and food is changing but it’s going to take a while until we have Paleo ingredients easily available at grocery stores and supermarkets.”

With demand for healthy eating establishments in Dubai and across the globe growing, it looks like we haven’t seen the back of the caveman just yet.