Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives, a Netflix docu-series which highlights the downfall of Sarma Melngailis, a vegan celebrity restaurant owner who was convicted for laundering millions of dollars from her restaurant, Pure Food, and Wine. Famous people like Clintons, Owen Wilson, and Anne Hathaway had also dined in her restaurant.
Sarma Melngailis was doing fine before she met Anthony Strangis on Twitter. From 2011 to 2016, she drained all the money from her investors and ran away with her husband and her dog, Leon.
Anthony Strangis, a gambler, and con artist manipulated Sarma that he can make her and her pitbull immortal. She gave her all the personal pieces of information and the passwords of her bank accounts, which help them continue their hiding until their money ran out. The police traced their phone to arrest them while they were ordering a Domino’s pizza.
But after they were arrested, the couple were torn apart by different journalists, and a lot of wrong information was given to the audience. So, an investigative reporter, Allen, opens up the whole investigation bit by bit for the viewers. What really happens with Sarma Melngailis and Anthony Strangis? And how does an educated businesswoman like Sarma get fooled by her husband?
At the beginning of the docu-series, Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives, Allen Salkin introduces himself and how he met Sarma Melngailis, the owner of Pure Food and Wine. He used to go to Rikers just like we saw Jessica Pressler in Inventing Anna, and take a lot of notes for his investigation.
Allen just not only talks about the collapse of the restaurant but also the horrors of intimate partner abuse.
The real story of Sarma Melngailis by Allen
Sarma Melngailis from Netflix’s Bad Vegan gets trapped by a con artist. Anthony Strangis, who promised her he will make Sarma and Leon immortal. This immortality will give Sarma the power to make the world vegan, which will eventually save the future of the planet.
Allen’s journey begins with Pure, Food and Wine in 2006, where he interviewed Matthew Kenney for Time Out New York. Matthew Kenney openly gave his opinion about his ex-girlfriend, Sarma, and how they split up. He then connected with Sarma, and as per Allen, she was “cerebral and deeply dedicated to the business. The food was delicious by any standards.” They get connected throughout the years in many book publications and parties.
So, when Allen saw her on TV, that they arrested her for her fraud, his investigative genes kicked in. He became ready to solve the case on his own.
He tried to contact family members and friends of both Strangis and Sarma to know the authentic story. Allen tries to focus on every court hearing of Sarma. In October 2016, he explains, “The #metoo era had not yet begun — the Harvey Weinstein stories in The New Yorker and The New York Times were still a year away — but this article about a successful woman who’d allegedly been subject to a controlling man and who was facing a court system that seemed to have no sympathy for her claims, struck a nerve with the younger staff at Vanity Fair. They wanted it to run.”
But, Strangis and his lawyer denied this claim. After listening to Melngailis’s story, many women have come forward to tell the story about abusive and controlling men. However, Allen’s chief motive is to make his report the voice of the chorus, rather than a lonely voice of empathy. According to Allen, “her public image is the kind people love to hate”.
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