Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives, is the new Netflix true-crime docuseries that tells the stranger-than-fiction story of one-time vegan celebrity Sarma Melngailis.
Melngailis was riding high as the owner of pioneering vegan restaurant Pure Food and Wine, and a noted vegan advocate. The restaurant was hugely successful and Melngailis had managed to build a loyal and happy team.
However, it all went awry, according to the documentary, when Melngailis started a romantic relationship with Shane Fox (real name: Anthony Strangis). Bad Vegan alleges that Melngailis began to believe that Strangis had the answer to all her dreams, including expanding her vegan empire and even making Melngailis and her beloved pitbull 'immortal'.
Bad Vegan ultimately alleges that Melngailis and Strangis were guilty of defrauding their staff of some $2 million. They were eventually tracked down to a Tennessee motel when a Domino’s Pizza order gave them away.
When will Bad Vegan be released?
Bad Vegan is scheduled for premier on the Netflix platform on 16 March, and promises to attract huge interest. Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives, is a documentary from the producer of Tiger King, and director of Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, Chris Smith.
Who is Sarma Melngailis the star of 'Bad Vegan'?
Born in 1972, Sarma Melngailis is the co-founder of Pure Food and Wine and One Lucky Duck, both raw vegan restaurants. In 2005, staff from both restaurants unionised and walked out over a month's worth of unpaid wages. Initially, Melngailis claimed the missing wages were down to low profit margins due to expensive raw ingredients, and she herself had missed rent payments for this reason. Police eventually caught up with Melngailis and her husband, Strangis, in a Tennessee motel room, with the restaurateur ultimately accepting a deal and pleading guilty to stealing more than $200,000 from an investor, and scheming to defraud, as well as criminal tax fraud charges. She was handed a four month prison sentence.