VegSource Interview with Ruth Heidrich

hen VegSource extended an invitation to Dr. Ruth Heidrich to hang her shingle up on our site, her response was an enthusiastic "maybe."

Actually, she was quite taken with the idea of having her views promoted alongside those of John Robbins, Howard Lyman and Dr.'s Attwood and Klaper, all of whom she has long admired and all of whom she has hosted on her local radio show in Hawaii. We thought it might be an appropriate way to get Dr. Ruth's page launched by dispatching one of our VS reporters to Hawaii for a personal interview with the lady whose e-mail handle (ironlady) speaks not only to her athletic prowess but her courageous victory over breast cancer.

Our reporter made contact with Dr. Ruth in her condominium on the outskirts of downtown Honolulu, a short bicycle ride, or 5-mile run, to Ala Moana Beach Park where she routinely puts in the miles, on land and in the water, necessary to maintain her commitment to excel in her chosen sport, the demanding triathlon. Her small home-office is awash in a sea of ongoing projects. The walls, and those horizontal surfaces not piled high with works in progress, are covered with an incredible number of awards and memorabilia from competitions all over the United States and many foreign countries.

VS: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us this morning. I understand you have a very busy schedule and are about to embark on another of your numerous trips to the mainland. Where are you off to this time?
Dr. R Several months ago, I was invited to speak at the San Francisco "World Vegetarian Day" in Golden Gate Park. So on the 4th of October, I'll be joining several other vegetarian speakers for what looks like a very enjoyable day in one of the world's greatest cities.
VS: Do you have many speaking engagements?
Dr. R I do a lot of speaking to local groups here in Hawaii: church groups, hospital-affiliated groups, senior citizens, youth groups and schools — probably over 100 presentations a year. Mainland speaking opportunities are limited by time and funds, but I usually get there several times a year..
VS: You also have a radio show. Could you tell us a little about that.
Dr. R Several years ago I was invited to join Terry Shintani, M.D. as co-host on KWAI radio's "Nutrition and You." It's such an outstanding way to reach out to people who need correct information about a healthy lifestyle. We've had some super guests on the program over the years. Howard Lyman made an appearance earlier this year, and John McDougall, Charlie Attwood and Michael Klaper have all been on in the past.
VS: Where do you see yourself fitting into the VegSource site?
Dr. R : I see the Internet, and the VegSource site in particular, as another opportunity to get the word out to those who are interested in improving their nutrition and general health. I have been vegan for over 15 years and earned my Ph.D in Health Administration based on research in nutrition and exercise physiology. I love to encourage children to start developing lifetime eating and exercise habits which will help them avoid the host of diseases that we know can be prevented by following a healthy lifestyle. In my frequent contact with young people, it is obvious they need information to counteract the myths we vegetarians and vegans must deal with at all levels, at home, in the schools and among our peers. I would also like to reach out to my own generation, particularly pre-menopausal women who have to deal with a confusing flood of advice and in some cases outright misinformation on such things as osteoporosis.
VS: When you speak of "your generation," would it be gauche to ask how old you are?
Dr. R I will be 63 in February I make no attempt to hide my age because I believe that as a vegan, a female, a "senior citizen" and a competitive athlete, I serve as a role model for a large constituency who need to identify with someone who is "like them."
VS: Are you working on anything special you'd like to tell us about?
Dr. R Wow! I feel like life has become a juggling act of priorities. Buried in that pile of paper and computer disks in the other room are a couple of new books nearing completion; a number of partially finished magazine articles, including a request I received just this week from Vegetarian Life for an article on cardiovascular disease; a list of speaking engagements; and a list of upcoming athletic competitions. And I leave at the end of the month for San Francisco and Vancouver for some speaking engagements and radio and television appearances.
VS: And now you are signing on as a regular contributor to VegSource.
Dr. R Yes, because I see it in the same light as my weekly radio show. It's a terrific opportunity to reach people who are interested enough in doing something about their lifestyle to "tune in" but who may need just that bit of extra encouragement or information to make the commitment.
VS:: Thank you for spending this time with us today and we look forward to seeing your page at the VegSource site.
Dr. R Thank you for this marvelous opportunity. And let me extend and invitation to VegSource members who may visit Hawaii to contact our Vegetarian Society of Hawaii for information on vegetarian dining opportunities around the island and a schedule of our meetings. Also, to you runners, the Mid Pacific Road Runners Club has a web site which lists upcoming runs here in Hawaii. We'd love to see you at the Veg Society meetings and/or the weekend races.

Back to Dr. Ruth's site