BAD VEGAN on Netflix is a new true-crime documentary series. Despite setting a few things straight about this crazy story, it does remain very weird and strange. With four episodes, it’s longer than necessary but still fascinating. Read our full Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives review here!
BAD VEGAN is a new Netflix true-crime documentary series. Over the course of four 60-minute episodes, we hear the story of how the most popular Vegan chef in New York ended up as a fugitive. It’s as crazy as other stories about hustlers, immortality, and people being brainwashed into going against what they believe.
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It does end up being at least one episode longer than necessary. In fact, it could probably have been a strong documentary film as well. We watched all four episodes for this review, but I feel like I could’ve gotten everything I needed to know in two strong hours.
Continue reading our Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives review below.
What is the truth?!
The full title of this docu-series is Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives. So everything this true-crime story is about is right there in the title. Despite setting a few things straight about this crazy story (which I’ll get back to), it does remain very weird and strange.
With four episodes, it’s longer than necessary but still fascinating.
However, I will be completely honest and say that I am still not sure what the truth is in this story. We hear the entire story from Sarma Melngailis. She was the owner of Pure Food and Wine in New York City, which was an extremely popular vegan restaurant. Everyone famous was seen there and this place offered vegan food at a time when it really wasn’t common in restaurants. At all!
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Bad Vegan and The Tinder Swindler have one huge thing in common; When you watch it, you can’t help but wonder why the women didn’t stop. Just stop giving money to the hustler who keeps coming back for more.
However, I also noticed that whenever Sarma Melngailis is asked a question that clearly can’t be answered in her favor, she seems to have a lot of holes in her memory. Kudos to the filmmaker and producers for clearly showing, through the interviews, that they do attempt to get these answers out of her. And they also point out when something seems a bit off to get a reaction out of her.
Setting the record straight
I may not be a Vegan myself, but I do understand the appeal (because I love animals) and have no inherent hatred towards anyone choosing to be vegan. Maybe that’s why I really liked that Bad Vegan set the record straight about one core element of this whole debacle.
The story that everyone seems to have run with is: Vegan chef caught by pizza and chicken wings. And yes, when they got caught, it was over a Domino’s order that contained pizza and chicken wings. It just wasn’t for her, but for her husband. The one who also talks about his meat suit.
WHAT IS THE MEAT SUIT?
Honestly, the meat suit thing is a tiny element of the documentary which was impressively featured in the trailer. It simply refers to ones body and is just one very small piece of the crazy story one hustler is weaving to get money for his gambling addiction.
In any case, even the arresting officers are confirming that this food was not in her room, but in his. So really, the whole “funny” angle about “the vegan hustler who isn’t even vegan” is just that; An angle!
Sure, it’s a little thing, but since this is what made the story interesting to many publishers, it’s very relevant to include. Especially since it also highlights that these publications had no interest in covering the real story. Which is strange since it’s way more crazy than a Vegan eating meat. I mean really!
Watch Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud, Fugitives on Netflix!
There is one element in this Netflix docu-series that is used to straight-up lie and deceit its audience. It’s a bit of a spoiler, so I won’t get into it here, but I did feel like it was something that would be revealed. For documentaries, you should show and tell facts. Not try to add to the deception. This story is crazy enough without adding to it!
If you’ve watched documentaries about cults, then this does feel more like that than any classic “hustler”-story. Then again, maybe Sarma Melngailis is just that good at telling this story. In fact, I still don’t know if I believe her. Or rather, I don’t believe she’s telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth. However, she is rebuilding her life, so I get that there may be concerns in that regard.
I will say that we hear many people talking about how great it was to work with and for Sarma Melngailis. “Pure Food and Wine” was obviously a wonderful place to be as an employee. These people seem smart and capable, which is why they were so shocked to see Sarma Melngailis make so many bad decisions.
People, who have supported Sarma Melngailis’ attempt to get out the truth, aren’t sure that her story is the whole truth either. She seems a lot smarter than she appears through her actions with Shane/Anthony (he goes by several names). I’m not sure she isn’t trying to hustle him right back. But hey, you can’t say he wouldn’t deserve it.
Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud, Fugitives is out on Netflix from March 16, 2022.
Director: Chris Smith
Executive Producers: Ryann Fraser, Mark Emms, Chris Smith
Cinematography: Britton Foster, Antonio Rossi
Episodes: 4 x 60 mins
From Chris Smith, the executive producer of Tiger King and director of Fyre: The Greatest Party that Never Happened, comes BAD VEGAN: FAME. FRAUD. FUGITIVES., a wild four-part documentary series that explores how Sarma Melngailis, the celebrity restaurateur behind the glittering New York hotspot Pure Food and Wine, went from being the queen of vegan cuisine to being known as the “Vegan Fugitive.” Shortly after meeting a man named Shane Fox on Twitter in 2011, Melngailis begins draining her restaurant’s funds and funneling the money to Fox after he cons her into believing he could make her dreams — from expanding her food empire to making her beloved pitbull immortal — a reality…but only if she continues to obey his every request without question. A few years later the couple, now married and on the lam after stealing nearly $2 million from the restaurant and its staff, are found holed up in a Tennessee motel by law enforcement. Their undoing? A charge made under Fox’s real name, Anthony Strangis, for a Domino’s pizza. BAD VEGAN: FAME. FRAUD. FUGITIVES. takes viewers on a journey more bizarre than fiction.
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