Interview with Owner Dr. Ruby Lathon
We spoke with Dr. Ruby Lathon, owner of Ruby Reds Vegan, to learn more about what inspired her to start her business and how her clients and customers have responded. She shared inspiring stories about how she was able to help overcome her cancer through lifestyle changes and now helps her clients improve their health with plant-based meal deliveries and pop-ups. Check out our conversation below and be sure to try out Ruby Reds meal delivery services and pop-ups in Albuquerque, for a delicious combination of health and comfort!
How long have you been in the food business?
Our food delivery service launched in July 2020. Our weekly pop-ups (selling hot food) started in January 2021; we plan to continue every Saturday (and expanding as things change—weather and pandemic).
How long have you been vegan, and what inspired you to go vegan?
I’ve been vegan since 2008. I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer when I was living in Albuquerque and I decided to try to find a natural method of treating it. Vegan diets were the first thing that came up on the radar so I guess you can say cancer inspired me to go vegan. After I started following a plant-based diet, I was able to see incredible results in my fight against cancer. Going plant-based changed everything for me. I was an engineer at Sandia, and I switched my career so I could share healthy plant-based eating with others. When I put food out it is good for a reason and can be trusted—it is nourishing food to bring joy and health at the same time. I do cooking classes, cater events, etc., and people always rave about how good the food is, and tell us we should do this on a larger scale.
What inspired you to start Ruby Reds?
A larger part of what we’re doing is our food delivery—we deliver on Sundays and it’s a 5-day menu. I’m a holistic nutritionist and I consult with clients who are trying to make the transition. I provide them with meal plans and recipes and videos. I used to often get a lot of requests from clients asking, “can you just make the food for us?” They would say things like, “I don’t have time,” “I can’t cook,” etc. I started making foods for some clients who needed the help, and it really helped improve their health, so I decided to expand and make it a food delivery. We decided to launch during the pandemic because people weren’t going out as much, and they needed healthy food (our menu for meal delivery is whole-foods plant-based). We started the pop-ups to introduce our food delivery services. Basically, this was born out of request and the need to switch business more to direct service—a lot of what I do went away when COVID hit such as pubic speaking and catering so I had to pivot, and launching right now made sense because of need to pivot and meeting the need.
What is your most popular menu item?
Definitely our Philly Cheeze Steak. People who are not vegan are saying “it’s the best Philly they’ve ever had!”
What was the inspiration for your menu?
We really want to get to the heart of what people like, but trying to strike that healthy balance as well. We’ll be introducing other things as well. For example, our house made meatball sub is not fried (it uses pecans) so it’s still a healthy choice. We will also be doing more salads too for people who just want that, but still making it fun. It’s comfort food with a healthy balance. We like our house recipes because it’s less processed than other things on the market.
Are all of your customers vegans?
No, not at all. A lot of them are, and a lot of word spreads through vegan groups, but other groups have been hearing about us, people who are just looking for something different and healthier. We definitely want to serve the vegan community, but also expand it and show people that vegan food can be good and you can still have some of your favorite foods. And you can do it healthier—that’s why we do the side salads and vegetables, to balance it out and offer healthier options. I want indulgent food to have a healthy take. I love to eat lots of greens, so let’s lighten it up a bit and still have fun with it.
What advice would you give other restaurant owners who are considering adding vegan options to their menu?
If you’re smart, you would do it. It’s no loss to you, and it will help grow your business because there are so many who are vegan and some who just want options, so it makes your restaurant more appealing. It’s really not that difficult. Plant-Based is the present and the future, so if you want to stick with that cutting edge, that’s the way to go. It just makes sense. It makes financial sense.
Do you have any exciting plans for the future?
A restaurant has always been on my list to do. We are introducing this way and building a following, and hopefully will one day turn that into a restaurant. The more support we get the sooner we can do it.
Is there anything else you want to share?
We’re just excited. My brother is leading the efforts in Albuquerque, he is the creator of the Philly. I have to give him credit for that. I’m just excited and thankful for the reception we’ve gotten so far. We just want to thank everyone for that and ask for help spreading the word so we can grow into a daily spot for folks.
Ruby Reds Vegan Pop-Ups
Saturdays 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM
1603 4th St NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102
Order ahead online: https://www.rubyredsvegan.com