Let’s talk about influencers. Those are the people who are on social media networks like Instagram and who usually show photos of themselves doing fabulous, aspirational things. I’ll be honest, I have influencer aspirations myself — not for me, I mean, for Indy. I started an Instagram for him because he’s so pretty and I was sure that it would only be a matter of days before big brands like, I don’t know, Kong or whatever started contacting us offering million dollar promotional deals, but it just hasn’t happened. I guess he’s just too ugly. I’m sorry Indy but you’ll NEVER BE AN INFLUENCER. I guess you should try to go back to puppy school, or develop a personality or something. Sorry.
So yeah, that’s my conflict of interest: I kind of hate influencers because I’m intensely jealous of them. On behalf of my dog.
There’s another reason I dislike influencers: it’s because many of them peddle bullshit. That’s how you make the money as an influencer — you get a lot of followers and then you advertise things to them, and a lot of the things that are easiest to advertise to lots of people are bullshit. Lots of makeup pyramid schemes, and teas that help you lose weight by shitting your pants, and skincare pyramid schemes, and shitty watches from Ali Baba, and yoga pant pyramid schemes, and pyramid schemes, and pyramid schemes, and pyramid schemes.
A lot of it is diet-based, and so there are a lot of people promoting things like the raw vegan diet. One such influencer is Yovana Mendoza Ayres, aka Rawvana, and she has 1.3 million followers on Instagram, nearly half a million YouTube subscribers on her English channel, and about 350,000 subs on her Spanish-language channel.
Ayres’s various channels are all about to “detox” and “cleanse” yourself to lose weight and be healthier by adhering to a raw vegan diet — so not just vegan, where you can’t consume any animal products, but also raw, so you’re not allowed to cook them either. If you want to adhere to a raw vegan diet for whatever reason, that’s on you, but any reason besides “because it tastes good” is probably bullshit. Raw vegans like Ayres claim it helps detoxify you, which is always bullshit because your body detoxifies itself unless there’s something seriously, life-threateningly wrong with you, and no raw kale smoothie is going to change that. Seriously, go to the doctor and get a liver transplant.
There are also claims that eating your food raw is healthier, because it has more nutrients, which is mostly bullshit. Cooking can slightly decrease the number of some vitamins, but it can also increase your body’s ability to absorb other nutrients. The standard sort of advice applies: eating a variety of stuff is the best way to be healthy. Eat some raw stuff. Some cooked stuff. Some green stuff. Some brown stuff. But never purple stuff. Drink Sunny D instead. (This was a joke for 90s kids, not an actual endorsement.)
The problem with raw veganism isn’t just that it isn’t any healthier than a standard vegan diet, but the fact that it’s promoted using pseudoscience that encourages adherents to take it up without understanding how to get the actual nutrients they need to survive. It’s very possible to be vegan and healthy, and get all your protein needs met. It may be possible to do that on a raw vegan diet. But it’s not possible to do it when your main source for how to be a raw vegan is some dipshit on Instagram pouring fruit into a blender and then drinking it on the beach.
So finally, let’s talk about that dipshit in question. Yovana Mendoza Ayres ran her little raw vegan insta-empire for over a year before she realized that the diet was causing her to have serious health problems — and not just the raw vegan diet but the other idiot “diets” that went along with it, like consuming nothing but water for a week. Don’t fucking do that, guys. Lucky for her she went to a real doctor and not some hippy moron homeopath, because the real doctor told her she needed to start eating actual food, stat, and again, to her credit, she followed those orders and incorporated fish and eggs into her diet.
Again, you don’t necessarily need to eat fish and eggs to be healthy, but you do if you’re a moron who doesn’t actually research your body’s nutritional needs and how to satisfy them. Ayres accepted she couldn’t be a raw vegan anymore, and so she changed. That’s admirable, in my book.
What’s not admirable is that for months, she continued to sell her “raw vegan lifestyle” to her followers, pretending that she was still on the diet. That’s right — she was making money promoting the very diet that had made her so sick she had to seek medical attention. That is sociopathic. That is literally placing your own bank account over the health and welfare of thousands of people who look up to you. That makes Ayres a giant piece of shit. The public only found out about it when she went out to eat with other influencers and one livestreamed her plate of fish, and let me tell you, the look on her face needs to go in the Con Artists Getting Caught Hall of Fame.
Now, not only are people realizing she was selling them a bill of goods, but she’s made actual vegans look terrible. I’m not a vegan, but I am a vegan sympathizer because I know the science shows that by and large, you can be healthy on that diet if you take it seriously and pay attention to what you’re eating. But now people who hate vegans (of which there are many) will use this to say that veganism isn’t sustainable. It is. Raw veganism may not be, and it definitely isn’t sustainable when practiced by someone with more Instagram followers than brain cells.