icon bookmark-bicon bookmarkicon cameraicon checkicon chevron downicon chevron lefticon chevron righticon chevron upicon closeicon v-compressicon downloadicon editicon v-expandicon fbicon fileicon filtericon flag ruicon full chevron downicon full chevron lefticon full chevron righticon full chevron upicon gpicon insicon mailicon moveicon-musicicon mutedicon nomutedicon okicon v-pauseicon v-playicon searchicon shareicon sign inicon sign upicon stepbackicon stepforicon swipe downicon tagicon tagsicon tgicon trashicon twicon vkicon yticon wticon fm

YouTube vegans earned millions. But when they quit all hell broke loose. Should we pity them?

YouTube vegans earned millions. But when they quit all hell broke loose. Should we pity them?
Former vegan stars on social media complain they have been harassed for daring to eat eggs and meat again. Perhaps they should have thought ahead when they were “influencing” millions into their restrictive and unbalanced diets.

You promised weight loss, acne-free skin, firmer buttock tone, improved moods, benefits for the environment, and the moral glow of walking the superior path. In fact each one of you proselytized not better diets but entire life overhauls.

You sold ads on your videos, diet books, retreats and T-shirts.

You took people on a spiritual journey, persuaded them to spend hours in the kitchen hollowing out avocados and soaking lentils, and hours on the internet buying the best organic make-up with your personalized discount codes.

And then you quit. What did you think was going to happen?

Little wonder that each of your new videos is now peppered with comments calling them “fakes” and “traitors,” and demands for refunds at a quicker rate than you can clean them up.

I am not heartless. I understand that your diet caused you to stop having periods and suffer from anemia (Rawvana) or sent your body into a premature menopause (Vanelja). I understand why you were driven to such animal madness by your diet (Tim Shieff) that you saw some chickens run around a farm, bought their eggs from a farmer and sucked them raw. I also appreciate that the eggs were organic as the hens were “not just some supermarket thing, but like really free.”

Also on rt.com Everything’s at steak: Vegan takes neighbors to court over BBQ smell

You are probably doing the right thing, and it's good that Tim has dropped his urine- and kale-based diet. But you did not deal with this ethically.

You did not care to speak about your worsening health in the months and years leading to this point, instead continuing to radiate that New Age-tinged Stepford Wives positivity, always talking about how colorful the food is, and how relaxed you feel.

Some of you did not bother to casually mention in your videos that you had abandoned your vegan diet, even as you were extolling it in your uploads. Until you were caught eating fish in public. In fact, even now that you’ve renounced your views, it’s not like most of you have deleted your old videos, from which you continue to receive money.

You say that some of you were battling food disorders yourselves. But a person who is aware that their views of the world are colored by mental illness should be even more careful to not drag other vulnerable and impressionable people into their world.

Yet I feel not schadenfreude but pity. Before the first quinoa salad had been uploaded to YouTube, vegans were an easy minority target, and lapsed ones an easier one still from both sides, the betrayed allies, and the gloating burger eaters.

No, the real tawdriness of the situation is that you decided to sell not your work, but your own life, and not even your core lasting beliefs, but a passing phase. You made yourself into a commodity, and the good that you were pushing so full-heartedly was a dangerous scam or a faddish mistake. What you must be feeling now is deep humiliation that will follow you, a shame no diet can fix. Unless you are a cynical, narcissistic self-marketer who simply reboots the brand for a new audience as if nothing has happened.

By Igor Ogorodnev, senior writer at RT

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Podcasts