What did you do this week? Worked long hours? Cried on the phone with your mom? Got in a fistfight? Went to an underwater spinning class? Wrote your wedding vows? Whatever it is that you did, just know that while you were doing it, there was a vegan talking into a computer about another vegan who disgusts them.
In just a few dispatches from the vegan YouTube drama trenches, we have amassed a small but terrifying cast of characters: there’s Freelee the Banana Girl, aka Leanne Ratcliffe, a thirty-something Australian vegan YouTuber who eats a casual one million bananas per day and loves starting drama; there’s Tana Mongeau, the 17-year-old sort-of-vegan YouTuber who will not capitulate to Freelee’s bullying because, not to be rude, Tana has more followers; and there’s lifestyle entrepreneur Cassey Ho, aka Blogilates, who Freelee keeps claiming is suing her.
And now, it is time to introduce another member of this apocalyptic hell-tribe: Freelee’s boyfriend Harley Johnstone, aka Durianrider, who together with Freelee runs the website 30 Bananas a Day. (Note: do not eat 30 bananas a day.) Johnstone, who promotes not only a fanatical diet but also, oddly, vasectomies, often posts pictures and videos of Freelee in lingerie, occasionally with captions like this:
Johnstone, who describes himself on his YouTube account as “a high carb, plant-based vegan cyclist who gives no fucks about saying what needs to be said,” has fewer YouTube followers than Freelee (about 200,000), but his demeanor is equally if not more alarming, with the unblinking, slightly unfocused stare of a 14-year-old playing Jesus Christ in a youth group production.
I can only catch about every other word of the above video, released earlier today, but in it Johnstone appears to be hurling insults at YouTuber Tana Mongeau, with whom both Freelee and Johnstone have been in a longstanding feud for reasons that remain somewhat unclear (beyond the fact that fighting with other famous YouTubers is good for traffic).
“Tana!” Johnstone yells, from underneath his neon green bike helmet. “Correct me if I’m wrong, and no hatin’, just sayin’, but your boyfriend is over-age, and you’re underage! In the state of California, correct me if I’m wrong, he could get motherfuckin’ locked up! You’re jailbait! Correct me if I’m wrong!”
He then goes on to call her “Fuckin’ Tana handbag basic,” “handbag basic” evidently being Harley Johnstone’s favorite phrase. “We’ve already got enough handbag basics, and motherfucking fake natty [?] shit-cunts,” he explains.
Just to give you some additional context as to what Harley Johnstone is about (spoiler: he himself does not appear to know), a recent Durianrider video, from four days ago, is titled “Is Being Gay A Choice?” In it, Johnstone says he was taken out of context recently when he said being gay is a choice, and then he goes on to clarify that he does in fact believe that being gay is a choice.
“When you say those words—being gay is a choice, being fat’s a choice, being obese is a choice, blah blah blah is a choice, people start to examine it and all this stuff, and they have their own personal definitions of what that actually means,” he says, appearing to think this is not wildly offensive, and that it makes some kind of logical sense.
“People say I’m a homophobe. I guarantee you that I’ve got more gay friends than you, and I get more gay people writing to me asking me for advice than you ever will in your entire life.” He goes on to repeat this statement twice, and then explains that he believes being gay is a choice because “I subscribe to the choice theory in life. Choosing life, man. That’s my choice.”
Then, of course, we go here: “Obviously, I can’t choose my skin color. I mean, I try and get darker every day—I wish I had black skin, but I can’t choose that. If I could go out today and buy black skin for a hundred thousand bucks, boom, I would buy it. Because I prefer that skin color!” Then: “I can’t be a female—oh, I’m not gonna go there, these people just love to take me out of context.”
I think that’s about enough for today!
This has been a Vegan YouTube Drama Update.
Image via screengrab, animation by Bobby Finger.