Sarma Melngailis is not happy with how she and her story were portrayed in Bad Vegan. The former vegan chef called the series “disturbingly misleading” and is bashing Netflix for creating a “sensationalized story.”
In an Instagram post, Melngailis posted an advertisement for Bad Vegan next to a picture of herself crying. She wrote, “Me looking like a glamorized villain eating a cash salad is not me. It may help Netflix sensationalize the story, but at my expense, and at the expense of a greater understanding of the larger issues.”
Sarma Melngailis, a former New York vegan chef and former owner of Pure Food & Wine, recently became famous after Bad Vegan premiered on Netflix. The series told the true story of Melngailis’ downfall, her relationship with conman Anthony Strangis and how he convinced her to steal money from her employees and give it to him.
Since the series became a Netflix sensation, Sarma Melngailis has fought back against Netflix and said that the streaming service made her look like a villain and that she was misrepresented in the show.
In a blog post, she said, “What I want now is just to put my own words out there—words that I hope will help some people feel less alone with their own nightmares, or even maybe help someone gather the strength to escape one. And for me, these words may help some people better understand the truth of what happened, how things were, and how I feel about that man.”
The blog also featured a letter that Melngailis wrote to Strangis in the summer of 2016. The vegan chef said she never sent the letter to Anthony Strangis and only used it as a way to cope with all her feelings.
In her letter, she wrote, “How do I explain? Do I tell them what you told me, over and over, for YEARS? Don’t worry baby, it’ll all be like a bad dream. You’ll wake up and everything will be back like before, except better. That was your line. Your cruel and awful lie. Meanwhile sucking me dry. Berating me. Making me do awful shit. Making me humiliate myself to you and others, now the world. For what? What did you get out of all this?”
Sarma Melngailis added that the series had a misleading end, which showed her having a phone call with Strangis. She said that she was not in contact with Strangis in 2019, despite what the series said. “The ending of Bad Vegan is disturbingly misleading; I am not in touch with Anthony Strangis and I made those recordings at a much earlier time, deliberately, for a specific reason,” Melngailis said.
Melngailis also added that she was forced to leave New York City with Strangis and that she never wanted to marry him. The vegan chef said that Netflix condensed that part of the story and misled the audience.
“There was no actual gun to my head so it will be said that of course I had a choice,” she explained. “I get that. However, the response that I must be crazy and/or stupid is an easy, reductive one. I’m not stupid and I’m not crazy. I am humiliated and shamed by all the damage caused but have been working to rebuild a strong foundation of self-reliance and self-awareness.”
Sarma Melngailis added that while she’s angry, she doesn’t hold a grudge against the Netflix filmmakers. She said that her story is so strange that it would make sense that the streaming service would get some things wrong.
Bad Vegan is streaming on Netflix.