Yovana Mendoza, aka Rawvana, the now-infamous YouTuber embroiled in scandal after fans caught her with a plate of fish, is speaking out and defending her decision to move away from a vegan diet.
Mendoza, 28, told BuzzFeed News her "intentions are and always have been good." She said she simply was not ready to go public about her dietary change at the time she was exposed.
"I wanted to make sure this is something I really had to do, and would really make me feel better before sharing it publicly," she said.
She also wants to be able to eat whatever she wants or needs without feeling ashamed for it. "I’m listening to my body and learning to adapt to eat without self-judgment towards myself and others," she said. "It makes me sad to see so much hate on the internet."
Last Friday, the influencer and vlogger was forced to upload a 33-minute-long video to YouTube attempting to explain why she appeared to be consuming meat in another vlogger's video.
Mendoza said she had dealt with a number of health-related issues during the time that she was on a raw vegan diet, and had once tried a 25-day water fast. She said doctors told her she had small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), and that they recommended she amend her diet to include eggs and meat.
Two months ago, she began eating eggs and fish again and her overall health improved, she claimed.
Unfortunately for Mendoza, her public address about the issue only caused her fans to grow angrier with her. Some accused of deceiving them, while others accused her of downright animal cruelty for eating animal products again.
She now wants to make a few things clear to the online vegan community and other harsh critics: She's not disparaging a plant-based diet, nor does she plan on abandoning it.
"Although some have put many words in my mouth and made numerous assumptions and accusations, I never said that a plant-based diet caused me to have SIBO," she said. "This lifestyle transformed my life in so many positive ways, health included, for years."
When asked why she continued to post about her vegan lifestyle days and weeks before she was outed, Mendoza told BuzzFeed News she "was and still advocates" for that lifestyle.
"I do feel this diet has incredible benefits, and the vegan lifestyle brings a greater awareness to the way we live our life that we can all learn from and grow," she said.
The YouTuber finally hinted that she needed her "private time" during her transition, but that she will speak about it more in detail at a later time.
"When I’m ready, I plan to share my recovery journey with the public...the good, the bad, the doubts, and everything in between," she said.