Entertainment

Bad vegan: Sarma Melngailis says Netflix show is ‘disturbingly misleading’

Sarma Melngailis has hit out at the end of the Netflix scam documentary Bad vegan, called it “disturbingly misleading”.

The four-part series examines how Melngailis, the celebrity restaurateur behind New York’s Michelin-starred restaurant Pure Food and Wine, went from pioneering vegan cuisine to a wanted woman dubbed a “vegan fugitive.”

It tells the story of how, shortly after meeting a man named Shane Fox on Twitter in 2011, Melngailis began siphoning off her restaurant’s funds and sending the money to Fox. He had allegedly manipulated her into believing he could make her and her beloved pit bull immortal (a claim Strangis has denied) and told her she had to wire him vast sums of money to test her trust in him.

A few years later, the couple married and went on the run after stealing almost $2 million from the restaurant and its employees. They were eventually found by authorities hiding in a Tennessee motel after Fox made the mistake of ordering a pizza to her room using his real name: Anthony Strangis.

At the end of the documentary, it is surmised that Melngailis was involved in the scam from the start and used Strangis to pay off her restaurant debts.

Melngailis can be heard laughing and joking with Strangis as he records a phone call Netflix claims the couple had in 2019 after they served a stint in prison.

Melngailis wrote of the series on her website: “The end of Bad vegan is disturbingly misleading; I’m not in touch with Anthony Strangis and I took these recordings at a much earlier point in time, intentionally for a reason.

“There are a lot Bad vegan gets right, but it’s hard not to get caught up on things that aren’t right or give an inaccurate impression. I want to tidy up later.”

She continued: “It is common practice that subjects are not paid to take part in documentaries, at least not for the serious ones.

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“In my case, however, at my urging, the producers made an exception so I could pay the entire debts owed by my former employees — amounts accumulated after my disappearance in 2015. Of all the damage and debt that resulted from my demise, this portion weighed the heaviest.”

Melngailis said, “The story is so strange and complicated, even to me, that it seemed inevitable that the documentary would get some things wrong, and I worried about that.”

She added, “I was not involved in how the story was told beyond my interviews and the source materials I contributed. I also worried about how my family would feel about it.”

The Independent reached out to Netflix for comment.

Read more about what happened to Strangis here and Alec Baldwin’s strange connection to the story here.

Bad vegan is now available to stream on Netflix.

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/news/netflix-bad-vegan-documentary-sarma-melngailis-b2038688.html Bad vegan: Sarma Melngailis says Netflix show is ‘disturbingly misleading’

Russell Falcon

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