On Sunday, a 5 second video clip of vegan youtube star Yovana Mendoza might have just crumbled the 28-year-old’s entire career. In the video you can see the vegan food advocate smiling at a restaurant in Bali as she prepares to dive into her meal. In an instant she’s mortified as she realizes her friends camera is pointed directly on her plate. She discretely tries to cover it but the damage has already been done. Her followers who had been watching the 10-minutes vlog instantly knew what Mendoza was trying to hide. She was eating a piece of fish which is not permitted in the vegan community as vegan do not eat animal products. It’s reason like this that vegan youtube stars are imploding.
Mendoza, who goes by the name “Rawvana” immediately uploaded another video claiming she had only been on a fish diet for a last couple months to help with her health complications. She claims the complications had developed after being vegan for 6 years. Former fans started with the comments on her YouTube channel, Instagram and Twitter posting emojis of fish and deemed her as “Fishvana.” Hundreds of vegan youtubers posted reactions to the scandal ultimately dubbing this as “fishgate.”
“I felt like someone had died,” Mendoza has previous said. “It was one of the worst days of my life.” In addition to showing how many ways you can repurpose the word “fish,” the incident brought another revelation to the surface: The vegan YouTube community is crumbling.
Vegan Youtube Channels
To those who do not practice being vegan, the popularity and interest of vegan YouTube might come as a surprise. Some youtube channels attract hundreds of thousands of subscribers and viewers, even though only a small portion of Americans self-identify as vegan. These channels aren’t run by vegan celebrities, but what is known as vegan celebrities-people whos entire online presence is based on using non animal products in their food. Their entire social media life are posts that include them traveling the world, exercising, and documenting every vegan product they consume. However, in recent month several vegan influencers and Youtubers have announced they are now eating animal products setting a fire of backlash and online abuse. The question behind that is, what happens to a vegan Youtuber that is no longer vegan?
First Celebrity Vegan
Freelee Banana Girl was the first celebrity vegan star(real name is Leanne Ratcliffe) and Australian female. She claimed to beat her drug addiction and loose tons of weight by incorporating a diet of nothing but carbohydrates, including up to 50 bananas a day and no foods that had come from animal products. She brought in millions of views with videos of herself and her boyfriend Durian Rider. They consumed pounds of fruit, rice and potatoes, then showing off their flat stomachs in front of their cams. It then created a ton of copycat channels run by rich, skinny kids in their twenties who all seem to have met at a fruit festival in Thailand. Today, if you decide to play a Freelee video you’ll quickly be lead down a web trap of vegan influencers who spend their days at the beach and talking about the benefits of their vegan lifestyle.
As times caught up Freelee and boyfriend DurianRider’s star power seems to decline. As they grew with vegan viewers they also caught the attention of those who debunked their extreme diets and began to call-out the two. Freelee Banana Girl has since wondered deep into what seems to be the South American jungle, where she’s able to somehow find a computer and upload vegan videos while DurianRider has found a new love with a different vegan girlfriend in Australia.
As Freelee and DurianRider faded from the limelight, their all-carb diet also fell with them. Vegan YouTubers started coming forward with informational videos about the benefits of protein, healthy fats and even taking it a step further to the vegan keto diet.
Mendoza said in an interview she doesn’t regret sharing her vegan diet over the past few months. She still strongly believes it’s an extremely healthy diet for someone without her medical issues, and she may even to return to it in the near future. She also said she was planning to tell her followers about the switch from being 100% vegan.
“Even if I said it from the beginning, I was going to get backlash,” she said. “It was going to be too much for me to deal with, dealing with people’s comments and reactions and then at the same time trying to heal my body. I needed to focus on one thing.” Whether her followers accepts the reasoning of not, the blacklash from her fans just might have ruined her career forever. Commenters have called her “disgusting,” a “fraud” and a “hypocrite” while others have told her to kill herself. Her mother’s instagram used to be public but she recently switched it to private after receiving messages saying she should have never brought Mendoza into the world. This is part of the backlash as to why vegan youtube stars are imploding.
This kind of online abuse is normal for ex-vegan influencers. Many of these vlogers find their best material in responding to what other plant-based eaters do, so when someone falls off the vegan wagon it’s not only an outrage, but it’s good content. And that’s where we’re at with the outraged response videos directed at Mendoza, including her former friend Freelee the Banana Girl.
When Bonny Rebecca announced she was eating foods with animal products in it, a pair of vegan twins named Nina and Randa made a full-length “diss track” that features them frolicking in fake furs and dressing up as the literal vegan police. The twins later filmed a follow-up video claiming the diss track wasn’t about Bonny Rebecca specifically, but repeatedly lapsed into her signature Australian accent when imitating the “anonymous” target of their shade. “One of the things that I loved about going into the vegan lifestyle and diet is that I felt that it was very welcoming and very inclusive,” Mendoza said. “But as soon as you decide to make a change, they turn against you, which is really sad.” “It doesn’t make people want to go vegan when they see all this hate.” This is another reason why vegan youtube stars are imploding.