I've heard it on a couple of different occasions -- that Victorian-age people by-and-large ate basically a paleo diet.... ALERT! ALERT! There are pod-people among us! ;-) Anybody who truly thinks this is obviously from a parallel universe ... or is profoundly ignorant of history!
The "Victorian Era" was defined by the rule of Queen Victoria of England (etc) -- from 1837 to 1901 -- during the course of a century when HUGE changes were taking place in the "developed" world. For a little perspective, steam-engine trains were in their earliest years when she ascended the throne, and automobiles were in a comparable condition when she was lowered into the tomb. When this long period started, Mexico owned a gigantic portion of what is now the USA, and by the end of that time, we had wrested (i was tempted to say "stolen") it from them.
What was eaten during that period of time was broadly different, depending upon where you were and how much money you had. What i can state with confidence and conviction is, the poorer you were, the more HORRIBLY neolithic your food was. And in our age of plenteous variety, most people would be appalled to observe how repetitious was the diet of ordinary people of that era.
In our day of cheap chicken, i'm sure it will surprise a lot of people that poultry was considered a "special" luxury meal -- that's why in the US, turkey is the traditional main-dish of Thanksgiving and Christmas -- one certainly couldn't afford it more regularly. 150 years ago, it was far more economical for a city-dweller to acquire beef ... and to my surprise, colonial-era Americans ate more veal than mature beef as well. Of course -- the cows were valuable for their dairy products and you don't want too many bulls around, because they're dangerous. A superfluous number of male calves become veal, not steers.
Once while visiting Britain, i acquired a wonderful little cookbook, written by one of V's chefs, entitled "A Plain Cookery Book for the Working Classes" (1861) (As a reenactor portraying an Irish immigrant at the time of the Civil War, these recipes are PERFECT for describing to our audiences the "affordable" diet of the times.) I wish it were arranged as most cookbooks are, by type of dish, but no -- Oatmeal Porridge is printed just before Ox-Cheek Soup. :-P Mr Francatelli most specifically urges Victoria's subjects to learn to bake their own bread, in order to save money and have a much more wholesome product than their local baker supplies.
If you lived in the American southwest during the period in question, and you weren't a well-to-do rancher, you didn't dream of eating outside the Neolithic template -- you probably ate very little besides beans and corn, as did your ancestors for thousands of years, too. There just isn't very much GAME out there! Why do you think they started herding so early -- without sheep/goats and artificially-irrigated fields of the "holy trinity" of corn, beans and squash, the great pueblo civilizations could never have begun. Prehistoric populations were all hunter-gatherers? HA!
Don't assume that the non-desert people of the West were all living on game, either. Comanches and their competitors may be poster-children for "all-meat" diets, but they weren't 100% typical, by any means. And if your imagination shows you visions of westward-expansionists shooting a deer for dinner every day from the seat of his covered wagon, i've got more bad news -- the great western trails were often great swaths of trampled, hard, grassless earth a mile wide! People had to go huge distances out of their way to get water and grass for their animals in some places -- can you imagine antelope grazing within the range of a rifle? No, not even rabbits.
Another valuable reprinted book in my collection is "The Prairie Traveler" (1859), written by an expert on the subject of westward trails (not the quality of the moron who led the Donner Party on an experimental route). What he tells emigrants to bring are flour (by which he means wheat OR corn), bacon, beef on the hoof, coffee, sugar, leavening, salt, and pepper. He lists also what a certain "North American Arctic exploration party" carried with them (successfully, i gather) -- pemmican, hard biscuit, preserved potatoes, flour, tea, sugar, and "grease or alcohol for cooking." He also recommends antiscorbutics, and praises desiccated vegetables. ...Civil War soldiers preferred to pronounce that word, "desecrated." ;-)
So when people claim that "Victorians" were eating a paleo diet, exactly WHICH Victorians are we talking about? Some African tribe that missionaries were pestering? Uncontacted South Sea islanders? Cuz it sure wasn't Victoria's OWN SUBJECTS, nor those in most of her empire, nor the North American descendants of previous British monarchs.