Dr. Harriet Davis is the modern day one-sixth-scale version of Wonder Woman. She's an Army wife and family practitioner by day and a bikini-clad plant-fueled cardio machine by night. Despite her short stature of 5'2", Davis holds a strong presence and has the uncanny ability to become best friends with a stranger while waiting at a crosswalk.
Davis, 43, has been eating green for more than 20 years; she went vegan eight years ago and hasn't looked back since. Her blog Vegan Bikini Doc (veganbikinidoc.wordpress.com) features posts on healthy vegan dietary replacements, animal-friendly fashion and recipes.
Between work and her family, Davis competes in bikini bodybuilding competitions. She trains with a personal trainer and groups like PlantBuilt and Vegetarian Bodybuilding to build muscle while still eating healthy. After getting a taste of local and regional victories, her goal became to qualify for and compete in the international Olympia in Las Vegas.
Perhaps because she is a glutton for punishment, Davis recently threw her hat into the ring for PETA's "Sexiest Vegan Next Door" contest. (You can cast a vote for the sexy doctor between now and May 1.) We sat down with the solar-powered Salisbury native to talk about life, work and the love of competition.
On why she became an herbivore.
My father died of a heart condition when I was 10. Once my father had a heart attack, everyone in my family changed the way they were eating. Nutrition has just always been something that was important because it was his eating habits that probably accelerated the heart disease.
On why she cut out all animal by-products.
Once you start taking things out of your diet, you start seeing what other things do to affect your digestion. For me, I didn't like how I felt when I was trying to digest meat. Once I cut that out, there were certain things, dairy products or eggs, that would make me sick. As I continued to remove one thing after another, I thought, "Why don't I just try to go vegan?" So I did, and ever since I've felt better than I've ever felt before.
On why she joined PETA's "Sexiest Vegan Next Door" competition.
I really like PETA, just because they're so in-your-face with things. I like the way they challenge people with their information. Frequently I'll go on PETA.org and see what's new, what's going on, who's doing what. I was doing cardio, and something popped up about this contest. I thought, what a great way to get a bigger platform. That's what I've been hoping for. I thought this contest would be a good way to talk to people and share what my passions are with them.
On how she got into strutting her stuff onstage in a bikini.
Once I hit 40, it was like my body composition was changing. What was working to maintain my fitness wasn't responding as well anymore. I had a friend from med school who started to compete in figure bodybuilding. I asked my husband, "How would you feel if I run around stage with a bikini on?" and he said to go for it. I went into this trying to build muscle, and I am a goal-oriented person. So I can't just build muscle, I have to build muscle and compete.
On being a vegan bikini bodybuilding doctor.
Being a competitor and vegan helps me relate with patients who are diabetic or gluten-free because those diets require preparation. It allows me to connect with people when they say that they can't, or that they just don't have time. We try to figure out what they're doing with their time and help them find ways to fit their diet into their schedule.
It is tough. Sometimes I just want to go to bed. Sometimes I just want to eat french fries, or something that's not vegan, like the Oreos cookies that my husband and son are eating.