Sarma Melngailis — the subject of Netflix’s Bad Vegan — wants to set the record straight about the ending of the documentary, which covers the downfall of her now-defunct but once world-renowned New York City raw vegan restaurant Pure Food and Wine.
In a statement posted on her personal blog Sarma Raw last week, Melngailis called the ending of Bad Vegan “disturbingly misleading” and said that contrary to how a phone conversation at the end of the doc makes it appear, she is no longer in touch with her ex-husband, Anthony Strangis.
“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 wrote in the blog post.
“There’s a lot Bad Vegan gets right, but it’s hard not to get stuck on the things that aren’t right or leave an inaccurate impression.”
Reps for Netflix did not immediately respond to MovieMaker‘s request for comment about the documentary’s ending.
Bad Vegan tells the ripped-from-the-tabloids story of how Strangis reportedly convinced Melngailis to wire him over $1.6 million over the course of their courtship and six-year marriage. Recorded phone calls and text messages between Strangis and Melngailis also show how Strangis promised her that the payments were part of a greater test from supernatural forces, which, if passed, would earn Melngailis and her dog immortality.
After a period of time in 2015 during which Sarma Melngailis was absent from running her restaurant, Pure Food and Wine’s investors contacted the police on suspicion that they were being defrauded and a warrant was put out for Melngailis and Strangis’ arrests. Facing a 24-count indictment, the pair were arrested in May 2016 in Tennessee after Strangis used his credit card to order a Domino’s pizza, alerting authorities to their location.
Melngailis served four months in prison and Strangis served a little over a year after they both took plea deals, with Strangis pleading guilty to fourth-degree grand larceny and Melngailis pleading guilty to charges of grand larceny, criminal tax fraud, and a defrauding scheme, according to the documentary and Esquire.
Both have since been released. Their divorce was finalized in 2018.
In her blog post, Melngailis also promised to give more opinions on Bad Vegan in the future and noted that she used profits from the Netflix documentary to pay the remaining balances owed to her former Pure Food and Wine employees. Then, she set the record straight about the 10-month period in which she and Strangis left New York and were living out of hotel rooms in various states, including Nevada and Tennessee.
“While early tabloids got the first word and a lot of that narrative has stuck, I didn’t ‘flee’ in 2015 as those accounts stated, nor was I ‘on the lam,’ at least not to my knowledge. I didn’t leave voluntarily. I didn’t know what funds Anthony had at the time, and I no longer had access to my electronic devices and email/text accounts. I can already hear the troll chorus of Yeah right! but most of what I say is verifiable,” she wrote. “It also feels important to point out that of the money I’d raised at the end, over 90% went to re-open the restaurant and make payments. The idea that I would do all of that only to then run away with a man I hated and feared makes no sense. I didn’t want to marry him, and that part of the story was inaccurately condensed.”
Bad Vegan is now streaming on Netflix.
Main Image: Sarma Melngailis in Bad Vegan courtesy of Netflix.