Last week, Ariana Grande’s Twitter mentions were filled with vegan-related drama after Starbucks confirmed that her signature Cloud Macchiato contains animal products. The cold foam that puts the cloud into those mermaid-logo cups requires eggs and milk, and her vegan stans were shook. There were debates about whether Grande—who says she is vegan—knew about the ingredient list, about whether she should have agreed to promote it, and about whether she’d actually consumed the drink, or just posed for a few photos with it.
But, as Buzzfeed News reports, that’s nothing compared to the backlash that one insanely popular vegan YouTuber is getting after she was caught on video eating fish. Yovana Mendoza, who is known as Rawvana on her website and social media channels, promotes a raw, fruit-and-vegetable-based diet and encourages her followers to “reveal [their] authentic self” by living what she calls “the Rawvana lifestyle.”
“Rawvana is more than just a name,” she writes on her website’s About page. “It’s a journey of transformation and love that promotes improving our quality of life through a healthy lifestyle and conscious diet.” She sells e-books, motivational videos and a $99 Weight Loss and Detox Kit through her site, and all of them include recipes and guidance for following her “raw, vegan, gluten-free, oil-free, soy-free” diet.
But some of Mendoza’s 1.3 million Instagram followers are questioning her own commitment to the Rawvana lifestyle, after she was filmed with what looked like a plate of fish in front of her—and after her attempt to quickly cover it with her forearms. Shortly after that video posted, Mendoza filmed her own 33-minute response, one that she called “THIS IS WHAT IS HAPPENING.” (The ALL CAPS are all hers.)
In her lengthy vlog, Mendoza said that she had been “completely vegan” for over six years, but also admitted that she has been eating eggs and fish for the past two months. She explained that, several years ago, she started to have hormonal problems and menstrual irregularities after doing a 25-day water fast, and that doctors advised that she should add eggs into her diet. Instead, she increased her vegan protein intake, started exercising, and started taking a number of traditional Chinese herbs.
Mendoza said that those were only temporary fixes, and after being diagnosed with yeast infections and a digestive condition called small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), she was forced to take “emergency measures”—her words—and introduce some animal products into her diet. “I decided to put my health first. For a while, I hadn’t put it first, and I wasn’t considering all of the options,” she said. “And that’s exactly why I hadn’t shared it with you. For me it’s still an experiment […] I’m still figuring it out.”
Many of Mendoza’s critics, though, say that the only reason she hadn’t shared her dietary changes is because she hadn’t been called out yet. “Making money off vegans to buy animal products. Sickening ,” one YouTube commenter wrote. “You cashed in on something you knew was growing and profitable. Very deceitful,” another added. Meanwhile, on Instagram, her comments are filled with people who are just posting the fish emoji. (A+ shade, right there).
“I just want to say that I believe in this diet, and that it can heal people,” she said during her apology video. But now her followers have to ask themselves which diet she’s really talking about: the one she’s currently following, or the one she’s currently selling.