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Bad Vegan: Frame. Fraud. Fugitives details the downfall of restaurateur Sarma Melngailis in a four-part Netflix docuseries. During an episode, she talks about how a connection with Alec Baldwin drew her to her beloved pitbull, Leon. The dog plays a crucial part in her story as she reportedly began falling for her ex-husband Anthony Strangis’s schemes when he convinced her he could make the dog immortal. In a 2010 blog post, the disgraced “vegan queen” admitted she “loved” Baldwin.

Sarma Melngailis posing at the launch of her Raw Food Real World book; Alec Baldwin posing at in suit at 'The First Wave' premiere
‘Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives’ subject Sarma Melngailis and actor Alec Baldwin | Paul Hawthorne; Mark Sagliocco/Getty Images

Sarma Melngailis and Alec Baldwin were close friends but reportedly never dated

As depicted in Netflix docuseries Bad Vegan, restaurateur Sarma Melngailis founded two New York City-based vegan raw food restaurants.

At the peak of Pure Food and Wine, many celebrities visited her spot, including NFL quarterback Tom Brady and his wife, model Gisele Bündchen, actor Owen Wilson who apparently would walk through the kitchen barefoot, and comedian Alec Baldwin, who tweeted his support for the restaurant and fondness for the owner.

When the actor told her he wanted “someone special” in his life, Melngailis encouraged him to rescue a dog and sent him several options, none of which caught his eye. However, one dog grabbed her attention, and she eventually adopted him and named Leon. The “vegan queen” explained she had a boyfriend when Baldwin initially pursued her, and then he went on to meet his now-wife, Hilaria, at Pure Food and Wine.

Melngailis noticed ex-husband Anthony Strangis and the actor tweeted back and forth, and they began communicating, eventually marrying. Baldwin’s social media activity with Strangis, who went by Shane Fox at the time, unknowingly verified his mysterious identity. He reportedly convinced Melngailis to send him over $1 million throughout two years from her restaurants, ultimately resulting in staff walkouts due to nonpayment and jail time on criminal fraud and tax charges.

She revealed she ‘loved’ the actor in a 2010 blog post

Melngailis operates an Instagram account for her dog and attached a link to a blog post detailing the story behind Leon’s adoption, titled “The Most Insane Greatest Thing I’ve Ever Done.” According to the Massachusetts native, she began babysitting Bazooka, a dog one of the servers at her restaurant rescued, and caring for him.

However, she didn’t want to adopt an animal herself, believing her busy work schedule wouldn’t permit it.

The restaurateur then brought up Baldwin, without naming him, noting she began “spending time with a man who I cared for deeply, even loved. Except it turned out, he really wanted a wife and more kids, and with my focus on my brand and business, that wasn’t what I wanted.” She also pointed out her relationship status at the time, making her situation with Baldwin “complicated.”

Melngailis continued, “Anyway. I cared for him such that I very badly wanted him to be happy, and he seemed very unhappy at the time.” The popular vegan claimed she thought the shared love between dogs and their owners would give him happiness, causing him to radiate “more love-energy” to attract the woman he wanted. “Seemed like a win-win, for him, and a lucky dog out there,” she added.

Melngailis adopted her dog when trying to convince Baldwin to get him

Therefore, the author began “harassing” the actor’s email inbox with multiple messages containing dogs he should look into adopting.

When she saw the picture of Leon, then named Quinn, she claimed she immediately sent it to him, considering the pitbull the perfect dog for him. However, Baldwin didn’t show any interest, and Melngailis became obsessed with the rescue animal herself.


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Although she noticed he had “severe demodectic mange,” the restaurateur realized she could quickly treat it and traveled to the shelter in Brooklyn to meet the dog in person.

She adopted him and named him Leon Quinn Trujillo Sterling Britt after Leon, the Jean Reno-portrayed hitman in The Professional (1994), heavy metal band Metallica’s bassist, Rob Trujillo, and Sterling Britt after her ex-boyfriend. Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives is streaming on Netflix.