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‘Bad Vegan’ Viewers Are Having A Hard Time Believing This Hot Mess Actually Happened: ‘What The Actual Hell?’

(Spoilers for Netflix’s Bad Vegan will be found below.)

Bad Vegan is Netflix’s latest in a line of scammer-focused documentaries and limited series. It’s perhaps the most unbelievable of the bunch, given that there’s talk of dog immortality and a “meat suit,” but if you’re into exploring a handful of episodes about people who’ve made the worst life decisions possible, it could be your thing. There’s also an odd Alec Baldwin connection, as well, but essentially, this is the story (which is at least partially true) of Sarma Melngailis, the wildly successful celebrity New York-vegan-restauranteur who fell from grace.

Long story short: Sarma entered into an incredibly bad relationship that waved an army of red flags from the beginning. She persisted, eventually embezzling money from her restaurant (while leaving her employees unpaid) and investors, funneling the dollars to Anthony Strangis (who operated under the “Shane Fox” pseudonym), and then they eventually became casino-frequenting fugitives. They got busted in the most bizarre way (shown in the series), and then Sarma served four months on Rikers Island.

The story’s sensational but pretty unbelievable at moments. Sarma’s narration often shows little affect and close to zero emotion, and there’s some lingering mystery when it comes to the woman dubbed as “the vegan Bernie Madoff.” Did she fall into a cult mentality, and/or is her story filled with holes? Whatever the case, as one user put it, “‘Bad Vegan’ literally saw ‘Tinder Swindler’ and said hold my beer rookie.”

It’s really bonkers. Sarma held an economics degree and ran two enormously popular restaurants but somehow started believing that Anthony/Shane had secret-agent/black-ops superpowers or something. A lot of heads are shaking.

All of the wire transfers also added up (Sarma’s access to enormous sums of money is astounding) and served to break more deals for the audience, cautionary tale or not.

Maybe a little sympathy can be found for Sarma? It’s out there.

But mostly, people can’t stomach the resources squandered here.

The Alec Baldwin thing is actually rather amusing, if true.

Yet the story is kind-of a disaster. It’s sad not only for Sarma but also for the many people who paid for her bad judgment and continued belief in a clearly terrible man. She also didn’t apologize in the series, which ain’t great.

PEOPLE has now reported that Sarma claims to have repaid her jilted employees with money from the documentary. “Of all the harm and the many debts resulting from my downfall, this portion weighed heaviest,” Sarma expressed.

Bad Vegan (from executive producer Chris Smith of Tiger King and Fyre: The Greatest Party) is currently streaming on Netflix.

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