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This new Netflix docuseries is positively shocking

a woman with blonde hair in a green shirt

Your next true-crime obsession has arrived on Netflix. Not only does the newly released docuseries Bad Vegan add a buzzy new title to this genre in the streamer’s library. But this is also another story with a grifter at its core — along the lines of The Tinder Swindler and Puppet Master: Hunting the Ultimate Conman.

Moreover, there’s also a track record of success behind this new Netflix docuseries. Its executive producer is Chris Smith, who also executive produced Tiger King and Fyre: The Greatest Party that Never Happened. “A celebrity restaurateur once hailed as the queen of vegan cuisine becomes a fugitive when she goes on the run with a man who cons her out of a fortune,” Netflix’s logline reads.

The Sarma Melngailis story

a woman with blonde hair wearing sunglasses
A scene from “Bad Vegan,” a true-crime docuseries that debuted on Netflix on March 16. Image source: Netflix

The man does so, Netflix continues, by “convincing her that he holds the key to making every dream — from expanding her food empire to making her beloved pitbull immortal — a reality.”

The “her” in this four-part docuseries is Sarma Melngailis. She’s the restaurateur behind the erstwhile chic New York hotspot Pure Food and Wine, a celebrity destination in its heyday. And which made Melngailis, among other things, the queen of vegan cuisine.

Trouble followed, however, after she met a man named Shane Fox on Twitter in 2011. Again, per Netflix: “Melngailis begins draining her restaurant’s funds and funneling the money to Fox” once his cons started.

He could make her every dream a reality, he apparently promised. But only, and here’s the catch, if Melngailis obeyed him without question whenever he asks her to do something. “A few years later the couple, now married and on the lam after stealing nearly $2 million from the restaurant and its staff, are found holed up in a Tennessee motel by law enforcement.”

How they got caught apparently involved a Domino’s pizza order that led authorities straight to them. So, yeah, this story pretty much has a Netflix winner written all over it, right?

Bad Vegan Netflix trailer

If you haven’t seen it yet, you can check out a trailer for the series embedded in the tweet above. And when you’re done with this one? Netflix of course has you covered with a ton of other binge-worthy documentaries and docuseries to check out.

Some of the newest include:

  • The Great Robbery of Brazil’s Central Bank: “In 2005, thieves tunnel into a Fortaleza, Brazil, bank vault and steal over 160 million reais. This docuseries explores that spectacular, historic heist.”
  • The Andy Warhol Diaries: “After he’s shot in 1968, Andy Warhol begins documenting his life and feelings. Those diaries, and this series, reveal the secrets behind his persona.”
  • Worst Roommate Ever: “Violent con artists. Stone-cold killers. These terrifying true stories unveil some of the worstcohabitation experiences one could ever imagine.:
  • Downfall: The Case Against Boeing: “Investigators reveal how Boeing’s alleged priority of profit over safety could have contributed to two catastrophic crashes within months of each other.”

More Netflix coverage: For more Netflix news, check out our coverage of the latest new Netflix movies and series to watch.

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Andy Meek is a reporter who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming. Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.