Today I’m asking, can you do Paleo on a pound a day? This is the challenge laid down by the Live Below the Line Global Poverty Project this week. As I blogged on Saturday the item was covered on BBC Breakfast featuring blogger Jack Monroe who blogs at A Girl Called Jack and writes brilliantly and eloquently about her struggles to survive on very little money. And how hunger hurts.
I wanted to rise to the challenge and see if Paleo can be done on a pound a day – or at least a diet high in protein. Jack’s shopping for the week contains nearly all carbohydrate. And that would be very difficult for someone trying to follow a Paleo high-protein diet.
Also you have to start from scratch. Can’t use anything you already have in. As I shop most days and buy fresh food, that would’ve meant throwing food away. Way outside the spirit of the project! So if I’m to give this thing a go, it’ll have to be after most other people have finished. Have to use up what I have in first and then maybe try.
So out of interest, I went to my nearest supermarket, on foot, to check out prices. See if Paleo can be done for a pound a day. The exercise is based on doing a five-day shop for a fiver ($7.75/€5.9) so you buy in for your five days in one go. Which obviously makes sense.
Here’s what I could’ve bought for my fiver and at my nearest superstore:-
657gram packet (1½lb) offcuts of bacon: £1.09
Dozen free-range eggs close to sell-by: £1.45
400 grams (1lb) of chicken livers: 99p
Two tins of chopped tomatoes: 62p
Savoy cabbage: 80p.
Would it work?
Could I live on this for five days? Would it work? Almost definitely not! I reckon I could live on that lot for two, maybe three days at most. But not for five. Not without going hungry a lot of the time. Have I made poor choices? Could I have spent the money better? For sure a value packet of rice at 40p and/or a value packet of pasta for the same money would’ve stretched it out nicely.
But they’re high in carb. And I want to see if this exercise can be done eating mostly protein. And I don’t think it can. Unless you combine the 5:2 diet with it! And use two of your very low calorie days on the regime. And I’ve already said elsewhere I find semi-fasting extremely difficult.
But the object of the exercise isn’t to lose weight or for comfortably-off, privileged middle class people in the first world to go in for a bit of poverty tourism. It’s to actually experience the very real difficulties many people face today trying to feed themselves and their families sufficiently on a very low income.
Sure those on decent money with support systems around them can have a go at semi-starvation for five days. Because that’s what this is, no question. It’s semi-starvation. Not quite enough to kill you. You can survive on a diet that only a fiver for five days can buy.
But you’ll be hungry a heck of a lot of the time. You’ll go to bed early to try and stave off hunger pangs but that might not work as it’s tough getting to sleep when you feel dizzy, disorientated and driven half mad by hunger. Your dreams will be full of food. But when you wake, there’ll be very little for breakfast. Just more of the same hunger.
Benefits a life of luxury. Really?
If everyone who thinks a life on benefits is a life of luxury, a genuine lifestyle choice, were to try living on the tiny amounts millions are forced to try and get by on, not just for five days but for five weeks, five months, five years, forever, maybe we’d at least see a change in the disgusting rhetoric spewed by politicians and their friends in the press that says poverty is a choice! It’s not. It’s hell.
Choose hunger. Really?
No one chooses to go hungry, feel the shame of being castigated just for being poor and hide from the vicious energy companies that should instead by called rich people’s money trees. Because that’s what they are.
Anyone who uses the word “lifestyle” in the same sentence as the word benefits has already lost the argument and shown themselves to be not just woefully out of touch, but severely lacking in empathy and humanity.
I wish I could do the pound a day challenge. I really do. I applaud those who are trying. But I know it’s beyond me. The real heroes and heroines in our society are those who have to do this every day and those who help them.