L A Sunday, a 5-second video clip featuring vegan youtuber Yovana Mendoza, broke the entire career of the 28-year-old single-handedly. In it you can see the raw food advocate named "Rawvana", smiling at a restaurant in Bali as she prepares to grab her food. But in a moment the face of the health guru changes as she realizes that her friend's camera is trained on her plate. She wants to cover it, but it's too late. The Internet, watching the 10-minute vlog later, quickly figured out what Mendoza was trying to hide: a piece of fish.
Mendoza hastened to upload a video claiming she had only eaten fish for two months as a remedy for the health complications she suffered as a vegan after six years. But the damage was done. Former fans dropped out on their YouTube channel, Instagram and Twitter, posted emojis of fish and mocked her as "Fishvana". Dozens of vegan YouTuber roommates reported appalling reactions to the scandal unimaginatively called "Fishgate."
"I felt like someone had died," Mendoza told The Daily Beast. "It was one of the worst days of my life."
In addition to the ways you can reuse the word "fish", the incident brought another revelation to the surface: The vegan YouTube community is crumbling. [1
In recent months, some of the most prominent vegan YouTubers have announced to eat animal products that trigger a spate of online outrage and abuse, but also ask a philosophical question: what will become of a vegan YouTuber who is not vegan?
The rise of the prominent vegan YouTuber began with Freelee the Banana Girl (real name) Leanne Ratcliffe, an Australian woman who claimed to have conquered drug addiction and lost dozens of excess pounds by eating almost exclusively carbohydrates – including up to 50 bananas a day. She collected millions of views in videos of herself and her friend Durian Rider, who "shattered" pounds of fruit, rice, and potatoes, and then presented her flat stomach in front of the camera.
Freelee was not the first vegan channel on YouTube, but it was undoubtedly the biggest. The result was dozens of imitation channels led by wealthy, thin 20-year-olds who all met at a so-called "Fruit Festival" in Thailand. When you play a Freelee video today, viewers are quickly led to an algorithmically driven rabbit hole of vegan "influencers" who seemingly spend their entire lives on the beach discussing the benefits of their plant lifestyle.
Over time, however, the stellar power of Freelee and DurianRider dwindled. The mainstream media picked up on the wind of their extreme diets – and thoroughly debunked them – and began to dismantle their more controversial statements. (The couple once said that more thin people would have survived 9/11 if fat people had not blocked the stairwells.) Freelee has retreated into a seemingly South American jungle – where she still somehow still uploads videos about her new video. off-the-grid lifestyle – while DurianRider has teamed up with another vegan girlfriend in Australia.
When Freelee and DurianRider stepped out of the foreground, their hard coal diet also went out of fashion. Vegan creators began to protest about the benefits of protein and healthy fats, and some even turned to the oxymoronically-sounding "vegan keto" diet. Others decided to give up their lifestyle altogether.
In a January 14 video titled "Why I'm no longer vegan," YouTuber Bonny Rebecca set the tone for a mass of overflows to come: half-hour videos The former herbivores apologize to their fans and explain breathlessly the health problems that caused them to eat meat. In the case of Bonny Rebecca, it was the extreme digestive problems that the 26-year-old claimed to have caused bacterial imbalances in her gut and caused her friend, the vegan YouTuber SlimLikeTim, to lose more than 30 pounds.
"I've been a vegan for a long time, and I think part of me wanted to believe in this diet so much – because I had such a strong ethical connection – that I ignore my problems and the severity of my health problems," said Bonny Rebecca in the video. "This was a big slap in the face for me."
From there fell the dominoes. Stella Rae, a former follower of Freelee's diet plan, announced that she had given up veganism due to bloating and digestive problems. Tim Shieff, a YouTube star and former vegan, said he had ejaculated for the first time in months after eating raw eggs and salmon. After her boyfriend's video was released, Rawvana revealed that she secretly ate fish and eggs because there were bacteria in her small intestine – a discovery picked up by outlets like Buzzfeed and The Washington Post. .
Perhaps she was hoping to avoid a similarly dramatic outing and announced the next day that she had eaten fish as well.
"Without sharing our truth and living in our truth, we have nothing," the vlogger said in her 36-minute video.
It is a certain damage to see a self-proclaimed moral authority fall – especially one that looks like these YouTubers: young and supple, with perfect skin and seemingly endless vacation time. It's similar to the Varsity Blues scandal that unfolds, but when these rich and beautiful people have also posted Instagram captions entitled "Enslavement of animals to our taste buds,"
it's also reasonably satisfied to catch a cheater, in fact, to uncover an influencer who ate meat, benefiting from a # PlantPowered image. Many commentators have pointed out that Mendoza started selling their $ 69 "Raw Detox Challenge" in February – more than a month after secretly eating fish. Others noted that she had taken a photo of herself at the gym in March: "VEGAN BOOTY GAINS." Just a week ago when a fan said her body "is proof that a vegan diet can do wonders." Mendoza replied with a kissy face and heart emoji.
In an interview with The Daily Beast, Mendoza said she has not regretted promoting a herbal diet in recent months. She still believes that it is a healthy diet for someone without medical problems and said that she might even come back to it in the future. She also insisted that she always wanted to tell her followers about the change in diet – but in her own time, when she found out which foods were best for her.
"Even if I said it from the beginning, I would get setback," she said. "It would be too much for me to handle people's comments and reactions while trying to heal my body. I had to concentrate on one thing. "
Whether one accepts Mendozas argument or not, the setback she has experienced is objectively frightening. The commentators have called her "disgusting", "fraud" and "hypocrite" and others have told her to kill herself. Her mother used to have a public Instagram account, but decided to go private after receiving news stating that she should never have brought Mendoza into the world.
This type of online abuse is typical of vegan influencers. Bonny Rebecca heard about comments she described as "pathetic," and an "idiot" when giving up her plant-based diet, and others told her to get out of YouTube because "no one is concerned about her superiority and lack of personality craps. "  Commenting on Tim Shieff's video on stopping veganism, a commentator wrote, "Well, that explains why your last videos look so wasted, old and bloated. That is so sad.
Some of the worst abuses come from other vegan YouTubers. Many of these vloggers find their best material to respond to what other vegans are doing. So if someone is broken, it's not just moral indignation – it's good content.
So we come up with the avalanche of indignant response videos to people like Mendoza, including former friend Freelee, the banana girl. (She claims they were never really friends.) DurianRider shot a response video titled, "Why did Rawvana never get this skinny?". Mainly he shows only the body of his new girlfriend. And someone who called himself RawVeganGinger, who claims to know Mendoza in person, made a 60-part Instagram story in which the health guru was torn apart before declaring that his true purpose is love.
That's not the worst. When Bonny Rebecca announced that she was eating fish and eggs, a pair of vegan twins named Nina and Randa made a full-length diss track, fooling around in fake fur and disguising themselves as literal vegan police. The twins later filmed a follow-up video claiming that the track was not specifically about Bonny Rebecca, but kept falling into their distinctive Australian accent as they mimicked the "anonymous" target of their shadows.
"One of the things I loved about the vegan lifestyle and diet. I found that very inviting and inclusive, "said Mendoza. "But as soon as you decide to change, they turn against you, which is really sad."
"It does not make people vegan when they see all this hate," she added. I hope that from all that and the whole press that has my case, people will be able to see that. "
Even after all the gruesome comments and response videos have come to a standstill, there is still the Ask how Former Vegan YouTubers Can Eat Meat, or more specifically, how can they persuade people to follow their health advice if they now claim that they have been sick for years?
Different stars have had different goals, Shieff, The founder of the vegan clothing brand, ETHCS, left the company after colleagues told Plant Based News they were "very shocked and angry" by his behavior, and Bonny Rebecca has sold her vegan recipe e-books, although she continues "What I Eat in One Day" and "Healthy with Me" videos with fish and eggs, your personal website just reads "something new is coming soon."
F It may be too early to say so in Mendoza. Their website is still up and selling products like their "21 Day Raw Challenge". Vivo Life, the vegan protein powder company it supports, did not respond to a request for comment, but she still has her photo on her website. She told The Daily Beast that she wanted to continue her journey towards health and healing, but without a strong focus on the food.
In December, the Vlogger launched a separate Instagram account based on a "mindful life" as part of a previous step. He shows photos of her raging in the wild, shows her outfits and dances with her husband – but in particular, nothing from her plate. It already has nearly 83,000 followers.