We Unpack The Unexpected (And Disputed) Twist At The End Of ‘Bad Vegan’

The explosive docuseries has set the internet alight.

Fans of Tiger King and The Tinder Swindler have their next explosive docuseries sorted with the release of Bad Vegan, a twisted, and at times mind-blowing look at the woman behind two previously famed raw food vegan restaurants in New York City. 

Directed by Chris Smith, the brains behind acclaimed documentary Fyre, the series unpacks how restaurateur Sarma Melngailis began illegally transferring money to her partner Anthony Strangis (also known as Shane Fox) who promised her immortality via a deity. 

As if our brains didn’t already feel like they’d exploded throughout the series, the fourth and final episode ends with a significant twist which left many people wanting to know more. 

Here, we explain the ending to Bad Vegan, and what Melngailis has to say about it. 

(Credit: Netflix)

What is Bad Vegan about? 

Bad Vegan looks at the rise and fall of Sarma Melngailis and her New York City restaurants, Pure Food and Wine and One Lucky Duck. The business-maven’s eateries were given the celebrity seal of approval with its famous clientele Alec Baldwin and Owen Wilson. 

Then, she met Shane Fox, who was actually named Anthony Strangis. They began dating and everything changed. 

Strangis scammed Melngailis a sum of US $1.6 million by telling her that he was a “non-human”, and that if she paid him, he could make her and her beloved dog Leon immortal. 

But unsurprisingly, Melngailis was unable to keep up with the exorbitant payments after swindling hundreds of thousands of dollars from her investors and business accounts. By 2014, she was unable to pay her restaurant employees and in 2015, her staff walked out due to the fact they hadn’t been paid. Subsequently, her restaurants were closed down. 

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Bad Vegan ending explained

As the series comes to an end, the consequence of Melngailis’ payments is revealed—they were accused of grand larceny after stealing US$844,000 from four investors, failing to pay US$400,000 in taxes and shortchanging their employees by US$40,000 in wages. 

In 2017, Melngailis pleaded guilty to larceny, tax fraud, and conspiring to defraud. Due to taking the guilty plea deal, she only served four months in prison as opposed to the potential 15 year incarceration. She divorced Strangis that same year. 

Strangis also pleaded guilty to four counts of grand larceny—he was sentenced to one year in jail and five years probation.

Per the documentary, Melngailis alleged that Strangis had manipulated her while she was vulnerable, which was why she paid him the money. But a twist at the very end suggests that she wasn’t as much of a victim as she claims—phone call recordings of the pair laughing and joking together suggests they remain on good terms to this day. 

(Credit: Netflix)

What does Sarma Melngailis think of Bad Vegan?

Melngailis spoke out after the ending of Bad Vegan alluded to Melngailis’ recent contact with her ex-husband, and thus more of an active involvement in the scam than she made out. 

Shutting this down, Melngailis called the phone call recordings, “disturbingly misleading”, taking to her website with a statement: “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.” 

She also added that, “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. Later, I’d like to clear up more.” 

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