Sarma Melngailis, Bad Vegan Queen: Celebrity, deception, and fugitives

Most of you have probably heard of and watched the Netflix documentary about vegetarianism, con artists, fraud, romance, and perpetual pets.

To those who haven’t experienced it, I believe this all sounds a little, um, strange.

So let us go sequentially.

Scams, swindles, and frauds

She was prosperous, her employees admired her, and celebrities dined at her restaurant. Until she met a man online, and her life was permanently transformed. She went from a rich businesswoman to a con artist and fugitive.

Sarma Melngailis, who is she?

Sarma Melngailis was born on September 10, 1972, in the United States, and grew up in Newton, Massachusetts.

Melngailisa’s father, who was born in Riga, Latvia, was a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her mother, a professional chef, sparked her early interest in cooking.

She graduated from Newton North High School, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Wharton School with a BA in Economics.

Melngailis moved to New York to study at the French Culinary Institute.

Entering the restaurant business

She founded a restaurant after graduating from the French Culinary Institute with her then-boyfriend and acclaimed chef Matthew Kenny, which immediately flopped, so she sought help from a reputable management, and thus her career began.

Pure Food and Wine, New York’s first premium raw food restaurant, was co-founded by her and manager Jeffrey Chodorov. Its location in a well-known Manhattan neighbourhood quickly gained attention, and it soon found itself on the list of the 100 top restaurants in New York magazine The Platt 101 twice.

Sarma Melngailis’ restaurant has been named on Forbes’ list of “All Star New York Eateries” for the past five years.

A beautiful young woman who attended a prestigious business school and culinary academy, as well as the founder of the raw food movement, became the proprietor of one of Manhattan’s greatest restaurants. She soared to prominence and popularity. Her entire vegan restaurant team adores her and looks up to her as the genuine and inventive leader of their dream venture.  Sarma has a close friendship with Alec Baldwin and knows many celebrities and influential people who frequent her restaurant.

“Mrs Fox be in love with Mr Fox”

On Twitter, Sarma met a wonderful guy who went by numerous humorous identities, like Mr. Fox and Mr. LongBottoms. Mr. Fox appears to know exactly what to tweet in order to win the heart of @Sarma. They discussed Leon, the name she gave her dog, and he desired to be closer to Sarmi. “Mrs Fox be in love with Mr Fox,” he wrote on Twitter. It’s impossible to escape.”

That is where the narrative begins.

Problems with marriage and business

Sarma began dating Anthony Strengis in 2011, and she soon appointed him as the manager of her restaurant.

Many people were taken aback by their relationship; even his mother publicly expressed her confusion as to why Sarma was with her son, an ugly gambling addict.

She later opened One Lucky Duck Juice and Takeaway, a retail food “takeaway” business next to the aforementioned restaurant, which did well, and then opened another, this time outside of New York.

Everything then goes wrong

Employees at Sarma’s restaurants began to leave in droves in January 2015, claiming she owed them money and had failed to pay their monthly salaries.

She later removed the post from her blog and apologised to all of her readers. She stated in an interview that low profit margins from loans and expensive components caused her salaries to be delayed. As a result, she was unable to pay her rent.

She eventually presented a different story, blaming the bank entirely.

A few months later, some staff returned, and business picked up for three months before everyone left again due to unpaid salaries, and both restaurants were permanently closed.

The unusual marriage’s arrest and exposure

Sarma’s marriage and life were far from idyllic. She, on the other hand, became embroiled in such an emotional game, becoming a victim of gaslighting, emotional blackmail, and Stockholm syndrome. Sarma gradually severed all social ties and, at the end of this harrowing tale, sat in cars and planes, often alone, with no idea where she was going or why.

Antoni convinced Sarma that someone had hacked her computer and gained access to all of her accounts and e-mail through a fictitious IT professional, allowing him to dominate her. Friends who were concerned noticed her behavioural changes, depression, and panic attacks.

Based on her level of anxiety, the cut-off she agreed to, and her surrender to a man who is a true gambling addict and a lunatic with delusional beliefs about supernatural abilities, Sarma is certainly a victim of a cult.

Sincerely, I’m not siding with either of them, but based on what we learned from their interviews, their marriage and relationship were far from normal and healthy.

Sarma tried to emphasise that she needed “someone of her own” and that she was sorry of the decisions she had made, but that she couldn’t turn back because doing so would have involved admitting her significant sins. Furthermore, glib was breathing mud because she wrecked her own reputation and company.

They took sanctuary in several hotel rooms in Tennessee after fleeing, but they were spotted ordering pizza, because Anthony was also involved in her activities and felt threatened by an investigation into the firm. Strengis and Sarma were wanted at the time for “grand larceny, conspiracy to defraud, and labour law violations.”

The media’s favourite topic when Sarma was arrested was this pizza, which generated quite a commotion. Netflix takes use of the inverse association between the terms “vegan” and “bad,” making it appear as if Sarma’s professed purity (the place was called Pure Food and Wine) was a deception.

In reality, Sarma is a vegan who built a large business from the ground up and does not eat pizza. Naturally, it is possible for someone who follows a healthy diet and exercise routine to be both a victim and a cheater.

But what exactly is Sarma in all of this?

Sarma later pleaded guilty to tax evasion, conspiracy to commit fraud, and stole more than $2 million from investors. He had already agreed to take a guilty plea and serve one to three years in prison. They were both fined, but Strengis’ was far higher.

During the course of this tale, she filed for divorce in 2018 and blamed her husband for everything. Anthony, she claims, deceived and fooled her into letting him manage the restaurant, promising to enhance it and making an odd commitment to make her pet dog Leon immortal.

“Sarma appears to have gone insane,” her friend says, “she truly believed her dog would live forever.”

She continued to discuss her strange marriage with Anthony, claiming that he kept putting her through tests to prove her loyalty to him, one of which asked her to choose between giving him money or oral sex while blindfolded.

The challenge was for her to accept that he gained weight to show her love for him, and he said that her dog Leon was his in a previous life and that the three of them had lived together for a thousand years.

It’s the most terrifying nightmare you’ve ever had! She once commented, “I’d rather have terminal cancer than this because at least I wouldn’t be the reason.”

Sarma currently enjoys her life away from the spotlight, enjoying her dog Leon and frequently posting photos of her daily activities on Instagram.

Instead of concluding, I’d want to pose a question to myself and you:

Why are so many women and men willing to believe fairy stories and pay for them, in this case with their own credibility, millions of money, and incarceration?

This post was written by Mario Bekes