President of Nutru, Inc.
Interviewed by Doh Driver
Are you vegan? If so, for how long, and what led you to become vegan?
Yes, I follow a vegan diet as much as possible. In the mid-1970s when I
went to UC Santa Cruz, Berkeley, etc., I had a lot of exposure to the
vegan/vegetarian lifestyle and restaurants. Then I started going to
vegan/vegetarian restaurants in the early 1980's in Europe, like "Zum
Gleich" in Zurich, quite frequently. Also, with mad cow disease in
the U.K. in the mid-nineties, I stated looking into vegan
alternatives. More recently, I had digestive problems which
hastened my move in this direction. I am also quite opposed to common
practices in the meat and dairy industries, especially with respect to what the animals are fed and how they are treated in large industrial settings.
Do you have a degree in nutrition or related field? What led you to
I have degrees in philosophy with an emphasis in philosophy of
science, international economics, and international new
product marketing. I worked for 20 years in the pharmaceutical field in
international business development, starting with 3M in the early 1980s. I
also worked with certain companies in the natural health field and
helped to launch Remifemin, a black cohosh product for menopause, in the
U.S. I also have studied extensively the history of technology, including the
Oxford Series which traces the history of the pharmaceutical and natural
products industry, particularly in Germany in the late 1880s.
Due to the
fact that I have worked in new product development and licensing for 25
years I was constantly being asked to develop my own products, especially
if a client turned down an innovative new product that we presented. On
the vegan side, I started experimenting with omega-3s in the late 1990s
and was not satisfied with many of the products that I evaluated,
especially those in bovine gelatin caps. Therefore, I decided to develop a
much cleaner, vegan product, which would be easier on the digestive
system, etc. I then decided to develop other products which were similar in
terms of their vegan formulation and mode of activity. I was also able to
take advantage of more than 25 years of international travel to
Germany, Japan, India, etc., always on the lookout for unique and innovative
products in the vegan and organic areas.
NuTru is based on a set
of core values--the name is derived from "Truth in Nutrition" or "Truth
in Nutraceuticals," which means developing natural products, especially
those in the vegan area with considerable science behind them, that offer
a real benefit to the consumer. A big problem in the natural health
industry is that there are too many marginal products making unfounded claims in
improper dosage forms with ingredients that some consumers, such as
vegans, don't want.
What is NuTru's mission?
To develop special vegan nutraceuticals that
meet the real needs of vegan consumers using formulations which have
extensive science behind them and an excellent safety profile, i.e. GRAS [Generally Recognized as Safe]
substances. These are products that are safe for daily consumption
yet have important health benefits. NuTru's mission on a longer-term basis is to support the vegan community and contribute wherever
possible to worthy causes, particularly to innovative programs which
address human health and basic needs for those less fortunate.
What has been the most surprising aspect of starting a vegan supplement
The most surprising aspect is how much I truly relate to the people in the vegan community, especially
those that donate time and resources to improving health and nutrition
and other causes, such as animal cruelty. I really like a lot of the
people that I have come across in the vegan community, and respect what
they are trying to do. I think it is a values thing, more than anything!
How do you decide what products to develop? What products does your
NuTru develops products that meet some basic health
issues that more and more of us face every day in key area such
as heart health, brain health, etc. These are high-end, designer type
nutraceutical products which work on a preventative basis, hence our
phrase, "Innovation in Prevention"TM. The whole focus of the healthcare
industry has to change and become more prevention-oriented, considering
with the current healthcare system we have--not to mention what is bound to
happen in the future.
You have an omega-3 supplement. Is this the same as taking flax oil?
The research that we did on plant oils like flaxseed and other sources of omega-3s, led us and other science and technical people
to conclude that oils like flaxseed were
ultimately converted to DHA--and sometimes not so efficiently. So, why not
concentrate on DHA, especially for brain and heart health? This is
especially worthwhile from the standpoint of being able to take one
vegicap per day, rather than taking a lot of different items to basically
accomplish the same thing.
Why is DHA so important to a vegan diet?
DHA and other omega-3s typically come from fish, shellfish or game. It is difficult for
vegans to get the DHA or other similar EFA's from plant sources.
Why did you decide Vitamin E and Phosphatidyl Serine were the next crucial products that
your company could offer? What do they do for the body, and why can't
vegans get them from their diet?
There has been a lot of scientific
research done on tocotrienols [natural vitamin e], especially those derived from palm fruit,
in relation to heart health and certain cognitive problems like
Alzheimer's, senile dementia, etc. Also, tocotrienol is synergistic with omega-3, and the body needs more natural vitamin E or tocotrienol when taking omega-3s. P-Tidyl_WeiTM, our
phosphatidyl serine product, also works in combination with DHA,
particularly in relation to phospholipid structures in the brain and
elsewhere. Phosolipids and DHA are critical in terms of brain and
cellular function. For example, approximately 15 percent of the human
brain fatty acid structure is made of DHA. DHA also works in tandem with
phospholipids in the body, as does tocotrienol.
Does this mean that vegan diets are nutritionally inadequate for human
In certain respects, yes. These diets need to be offset by certain
nutraceuticals or nutritional factors like omega-3, certain types of plant
proteins, trace minerals, etc.
What about children--do they need these supplements? If so, how do you
propose we give them to children who won't swallow capsules?
personally am very careful about giving children any sort of
supplements until they are old enough to swallow a vegicap. In general, in
this country we believe that children are given way to many
drugs, supplements, etc. Beyond that, the DHA levels do not become crucial until
adulthood, or unless there are special health issues which come up before
What do you think parents of vegan children need to consider, in regards
to children's nutrition?
Be sure they get enough protein and essential
nutrients as well as minerals, all in moderate doses.
Do you have plans for other supplements in the near future?
continue to develop other vegan products which meet the needs of the vegan
community and reflect our commitment to products that make a difference
in terms of improving health and longevity, as well as quality of life.
These will be products that offer good value in appropriate dosage
in an all-vegan format.
If there were a single piece of advice or a message that you could give
to vegans, what would that be?
Stay the path. Be true to yourself and
your values, but be reasonable and compassionate at the same time. Move
towards a more integrated holistic model which emphasizes real concern
for other creatures, including our fellow humans. Don't be exclusionary!
Finally, we all need to move into another mode which veganism will be a
part of, and will have to come from a further evolution in consciousness
beyond what we have now.
Where can your products be purchased?
At leading purveyors of vegan
products like Vegan Essentials, Pangea, etc., as well as some
health food stores and natural health chains that carry fine vegan