The vegan influencer community has been shaken yet again by a major scandal, and at the center of this affair lies the gravest offense someone in the fraternity could make: eating meat. (Yikes.) Let us enter the personal hell of raw vegan blogger Yovana Mendoza Ayres, better known on Instagram as @Rawvana, who has been accused of dining on fish, and has since faced an onslaught of vicious criticism for the “crime” she has committed.
What should I know about the influencer?
Yovana Mendoza Ayres is a 28-year-old vegan, fitness, and lifestyle influencer and vlogger behind Rawvana, a brand that wants you to “reveal your authentic self by practicing daily gratitude and self-love,” and “eat an abundance of delicious fruits and veggies.” In the six years since she started Rawvana, she’s amassed an incredibly large following: nearly 2 million subscribers on her Spanish YouTube channel (and nearly half a million on her English channel), and 1.3 million followers on Instagram.
But in the past week, BuzzFeed News reports that she’s fallen out of favor with quite a few of her formerly devoted followers.
What exactly happened?
In short, her friend (accidentally) blew up her spot. In a video posted to the internet by another vlogger last week, Ayres can be seen eating a plate of food at a restaurant — that is, before she tries to hide it. Almost immediately, rumors started to swirl that she had been eating fish.
Did she deny it?
After staying mum for a bit, she actually admitted to eating meat. In a 33-minute-long video posted to her YouTube channel titled “THIS IS WHAT IS HAPPENING,” Ayres tells her followers that she began to deviate from her raw vegan diet after noticing her periods had become irregular, and that her struggles with fatigue had worsened. While she at first tried to add back in non-animal products, such as salt and cooked vegetables, she later started to incorporate eggs and fish into her diet two months ago in an attempt to “put [her] health first.”
She further explained: “That’s exactly why I hadn’t shared it with you. For me, it’s still an experiment.”
Many of her followers weren’t pleased.
They’re still pissed?
Oh yes — in the past week, Ayres’s social media accounts have been flooded with negative comments. Take, for example, her most recent Instagram of her holding a “Mexican baked potato.” In the five days since she posted the video, she’s received nearly 14,000 comments under it, which feature quite a few fish emoji sprinkled throughout the sharp criticism.
“You make me sick by pretending to be one someone in front of the camera while secretly being someone completely different,” Instagram user @veganhippylizard commented. “If it’s true why are you still saying raw vegan is healthy, but now saying you weren’t healthy. Disgusted!”
Many users left comments about her profiting off of her “fake” vegan lifestyle, with sentiments similar to user @treker95’s: “Do you just do this blog as a money maker? Are you a real vegan? Or is this just for likes and views to make money?”
But among the biting remarks were a few people defending Rawvana. Under the same offending video was a comment from Instagrum user @slutforspongebob, who defended Ayres from user @veganmayhem.
“It’s so heartbreaking seeing ‘vegans’ putting other ‘vegans’ down,” @slutforspongebob wrote. “You know there are people who eat hormone filled meat every meal of the day, hunt for fun, and buy animal furs, but yet you focus your time attacking the people who have and do try to keep a consistent vegan diet. Nobody is perfect and the only thing we can do is take small steps together.”