Once upon a time, Sarma Melngailis’s name was synonymous with good clean living, thanks to her ridiculously popular raw food restaurants, Pure Food And Wine and One Lucky Duck.
In 2015, though, the celebrated foodie disappeared – shortly after her employees walked out en masse, accusing her of not paying them. And, in a bizarre twist, it was soon discovered that Melngailis had stolen millions of dollars from the restaurant, was facing grand larceny and fraud charges, and had gone on the run with her then-husband, Anthony Strangis.
Here’s what you need to know.
What’s Bad Vegan all about?
The logline for the docuseries keeps things simple and provocative, reading: “Celebrity restaurateur Sarma Melngailis becomes the ‘Vegan Fugitive’ when she’s conned out of millions by a man who convinces her that he can expand her food empire and make her beloved pit bull immortal – as long as she never questions his increasingly bizarre requests.”
To add some context to this, without revealing too many spoilers, it’s worth noting that Strangis – whom Melngailis filed for divorce from in May 2018 – has been largely blamed for the scandal. Indeed, according to Vanity Fair, he is said to have resorted to “cult-like techniques, including gaslighting, sleep deprivation and sexual humiliation, to control” Melngailis.
Indeed, a source close to Melngailis said that Strangis told Melngailis that the vast amounts of money she lent to him during their relationship was one of a series of “cosmic endurance tests” similar to a series he had passed years earlier – and that passing meant vast rewards.
“He convinced me I’d be empowered in ways I couldn’t imagine,” Melngailis explained. “I would have access to unlimited resources so that I could grow my brand all over the world, make the documentary I always wanted to make – the one that would finally change people’s ways and help eradicate factory farming.
“Basically, I could do all the world-changing things I’d been quietly dreaming about. I could help whoever I want, and stay young forever doing it.”
Strangis’s attorney denied these allegations during the trial (the outcome of which we will leave to the Netflix documentary to unveil).
Is there a trailer for Bad Vegan?
Netflix has yet to release a trailer for Bad Vegan.
What are people saying about Bad Vegan?
“Whether you want to dive into the psyche of a con artist, empathise with the victims of a scam, or piece together the puzzle of an investigation, this wild story is often full of surprising twists and unusual perspectives,” promises a Netflix spokesperson, adding that Bad Vegan is “sure to spark conversation.”
We don’t doubt it.
When will Bad Vegan become available for streaming?
Netflix has confirmed that Bad Vegan will drop sometime in 2022. Will you be tuning in?
Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.