If you've spent a little while mooching around the Internets then you will be familiar with online vegan sphere calamity Freelee The Banana Girl. Freelee forged a path with her no-nonsense, up-in-your-grill style that resonated with teenage girls around the world eager to lose those excess 14 ounces and horndog dudes eager to bust a nut over the latest YouTube hottie in a bikini who wouldn’t make eye contact with them in real life. Her appeal, like your mom's arse, is broad.
Think of Freelee as a meaty flat-nosed prop forward of vegan activism. Not for her the reasoned nuance of Earthling Ed or Mic the Vegan. You eat an egg, you’re Hitler. Eat a bacon sandwich and you’re Rudolf Gloder, the Hitler-but-far-worse from Stephen Fry’s Making History. Angry, entertaining and never less than emphatic, Freelee gives the strong impression that if you fuck with her you will wind up in a chokeslam, her bony forearm leaving a permanent ridge on your throat. Where did she come from and what did we do to deserve her?
Freelee hatched into this world as Leanne Ratcliffe in Melbourne, Australia in 1980. A picture book childhood of horseriding, cow milking and dodging BSE provided a solid psychological base for the emerging Leanne. Like many psychopaths (Fred West, Edward Gein, Jimmy Carter) Leanne grew up on a farm. As far as we can tell, this was a happy childhood where the commodification of animals as livestock went unchallenged in the ancient and storied Planet Earth tradition.1 Ignorance was bliss.
Things started to go awry when the 16-year-old Leanne began to work at satanic burger-and-heart-attack transnational McDonald’s. The enticing vista of cooked corpses, hot salty French fries and sugary cow cream shakes sent the barely sentient Ratcliffe into a gluttonous frenzy. She began eating McDonald’s produce like baldy manlet TV “critic” Boyd Hilton eats celebrity shit – repeatedly, daily and with extraordinary relish.
“I put on about 10kgs/22lbs,” she would later tell her YouTube crank army, “My skin became a hot mess of oily bumps and my health went down the toilet.”
The 22 lbs weight gain catapulted her to a grotesque 52 lbs. Her wheezing lungs protested plaintively as her cardiovascular system moved to the brink of collapse and her fragile skeleton struggled to cope with the excess weight. She ruined several sets of bathroom scales, one StairMaster® and snapping knicker elastic took the family gerbil’s eye out.
“It was horrible. The little fucker was bleeding everywhere, squealing like a bitch. He ruined a perfectly good carpet.”a
Freelee thought she had reached rock bottom but, as is often the case in superhero origin stories, she still had some way to go.
The 22 lbs weight gain catapulted her to a grotesque 52 lbs. Her wheezing lungs protested plaintively as her cardiovascular system moved to the brink of collapse and her fragile skeleton struggled to cope with the excess weight.
At the height of her eating disorder, Leanne’s weight reached a dangerous 60 lbs, the same as 30 bags of sugar, 60 Toblerones or two Karen Carpenters. She thought it was ogre for her but she reckoned without the redemptive power of love and the deranged sexual preferences of heterosexual men. Like many misunderstood heroes before her, she began dating a drug dealer. Whole new opportunities opened up in quite unexpected places.
“It was bonza, mate. Sucking drug dealer cock turned my entire life around. Banana girl? I gobbled my share of bananas that year, don’t worry about that.”a
Just as she had done during her time at McDonald’s, Leanne used her staff discount liberally. Before you could say “drug-induced psychosis” Leanne was hopped up on ecstasy, speed and cocaine, transforming her eating disorder overnight into a slightly different eating disorder.
“I was puking like a fucking frat house pledge, mate. I could spew eight feet on a good day. Between you and me, I think it might have affected my health.”a
Before she knew it, she was an extensive user of crank, molly, GHB, ket, magic mint, shrooms, solvents, phennies, oxy, benzos, fentanyl and junior aspirin. A career as a personal trainer flourished as she was able to work for 72 hours straight, sometimes without blinking. Clearly, something had to give and it came in the form of the philosophies of raw food loon “Dr.” (unlicensed chiropractor) Douglas Graham. Introduced to his teachings by a friend, Leanne immediately became a convert.
“After years of disappointment with get rich quick schemes, I know I’m gonna get rich with this scheme... and quick!” she recalls.
Oh wait, sorry, that was Homer Simpson. Leanne said:
“After spending thousands of dollars trying different diets like Aurveyda, the Blood Type Diet, the metabolic-typing diet, Atkins … I had finally found my Holy Grail!”2
“After years of disappointment with get rich quick schemes, I know I’m gonna get rich with this scheme... and quick!” she recalls.
And so, in 2007 YouTube sensation Freelee The Banana Girl was born – scrawny, blonde with a body you could bounce bullets off and an attitude to match. Let’s say first of all that as a spectacle, Leanne has quite a lot going for her. Being under-nourished and blonde never hurt anyone’s prospects and her brash, abrasive approach was a welcome corrective to so many of the timid smiling PooTubers you come across in the vegan niche. Her takedown of fellow white psychopath Rawvana was a classic of the genre - forensic, poisonous and exacting. Leanne noted that Rawvana’s illness was caused by her terrible shitty diet, not her veganism and also cornholed her for continuing to sell her bullshit retreats and profit from her vegan lifestyle when she i) was no longer vegan and ii) believed veganism had done her great harm.
So, where does the actual derangement begin? It begins with her saviour, raison d’etre and moneymaker, her loopy diet. Fruitarianism has always been a shitty bag of shit but her dingbat Raw Till 4 diet takes the crazy to new levels. Firstly, she recommends at least four litres of water a day (that’s approximately 400 percent more than the British NHS recommendation). Breakfast is a bullshit banana smoothie clocking in at around 1000 calories, most of them sugar.
If you are not aware of the dangers of sugar then here’s a primer. 3
Then for lunch, another cack smoothie. 900 calories. Then you finish the day with dinner, some baked potatoes with salad or whatever.
The sheer volume of food consumption you have to get through to get the necessary calories is exhausting. Who the freak has the time for all that in the real world? Even if you do live in some fruit rich Pacific Rim paradise it’s a big ask. Only a complete monomaniac into mono meals can do this. But she pushes this like the pill pusher she was banging when she was 16.
The crank science she lambasts Rawvana and Raw Alignment for is deeply embedded in her own diet plan. Follow it and you'll have have the blood sugar levels of an ADHD kid who’s just mainlined 14 sherbets straight into his system. The main problem with psychotically low-fat diets like this one is that fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) need fat to be absorbed into the body4 . They are only really a problem if you're concerned about blood clotting, osteoporosis and blindness, however.
The crank science she lambasts Rawvana and Raw Alignment for is deeply embedded in her own diet plan. Follow it and you'll have have the blood sugar levels of an ADHD kid who’s just mainlined 14 sherbets straight into his system.
But Raw Till 4 has loads of great testimonials from happy customers yes? Freelee herself tells us so. Ah, that’s not quite the full story. Multiple YouTubers suckered into the Raw Till 4 cult have uploaded videos testifying to its dismal failure. Take Anna Kaiye who hilariously documents her journey along Freelee's personality disorder regimen.
Freelee's rebuttal is typically that it's all the customer's fault. They are either doing it wrong or sustained terrible metabolic damage during their years of normal eating, a point dismantled by the excellent Unnatural Vegan below. It's like Raw Till 4 is a terrible eating plan no science-based dietician would ever recommend.
Beyond slanging her bullshit book and bullshit diet, Leanne finds other ways to give nause for thought. She uploaded a video attacking popular YouTuber Jenna Marbles for what Freelee regarded as her less than stellar veganism. It should be obvious by now that the fuck The Savage doesn’t give about Jenna Marballs is infinite but a watch of the video5 reveals that Freelee is giving Jenna shit for two minor infractions of the vegan code – buying some crackers with 0.03 milligrams of honey in them and the wrong type of chicken noodles (the type with dried rooster balls or whatever in the seasoning). 20 minutes of a living skeleton in a blonde wig berating some dumb influencer for the dietary equivalent of jaywalking is exactly what veganism’s enemies would create if they were looking for a fun peppy way to discredit the movement.
It’s exactly this incessant riding of people who are 99.9% vegan (which is 99.99% of vegans) creates a creepy North Korea atmosphere in the community with a chosen few are too engrossed in a fault-finding circle jerk to do any actual living. It doesn’t take much insight to imagine how all this looks to an outsider. It looks like the vegan community is full of loons, cranks and vengeful goons out to shred anyone who makes the slightest mistake. In a nutshell? This cracker is salty.
The fuck The Savage doesn’t give about Jenna Marballs is infinite but a watch of the video reveals that Freelee is giving Jenna shit for two minor infractions of the vegan code
Maybe the most important event in her life was hooking up with borefriend Harley Johnstone, a former meth-head cycling YouTuber going by the name Durianrider. It was one of those historic coming togethers after which all is changed, changed utterly. Think Burton and Taylor, Sartre and de Beauvoir, Hindley and Brady.
Harley built up a name for himself as an activist in his own right, with a particularly strong sideline in white knighting for vulnerable impressionable girls being targeted by sexual predators in the vegan community - a praiseworthy activity in anybody’s book.
“Hey man, that’s really cool and shit but I think maybe you should Google ‘Harley Johnstone’ before you go any further.”
“Fair point, I’ll do that right now. I imagine it will be good for some random background and colour for – OH MY GOD WHAT IN THE NAME OF THE CRUCIFIED CHRIST???”
I’m not an SEO expert (seriously, check my Social Blade or as I like to call it Social Flatline) but I’m fairly certain that if the first result in the SERPS when you Google yourself is a site calling you a rapist6 then you need to do some work on your branding. And, I don’t know, stop raping chicks? If he did which we are not taking a position on, innocent until proven guilty and all that. But it is The Savage’s strong opinion this kid's a wrong ‘un and it’s really effing obvious from very early on even before the rape allegations and the viral road rage video.7 There's only so much testimony from multiple unconnected people that this dude is a piece of shit you can ignore.
So what does all this have to do with Leanne? Isn’t this all just trying to smear her by association? Well, like it or not we are judged by the company we keep and the closer the association, the greater the stain left on your character. Seven years together, seven years of non-stop eating, sleeping, working, fucking and campaigning would be a pretty good grounding in everything that makes a person tick, good and bad. These two frigging oddballs together must have been like two loose cannons gaining sentience and falling in love. That their relationship ended in tearful recriminations, accusation and counter accusation8 was perhaps the most predictable thing about it. There was an entertaining period after they split where vegan YouTube wondered which side they should back in this particular turd joust. A “let's hope they both lose” consensus formed and crates of popcorn were ordered.
And as is often the case when you bust out of a dysfunctional relationship, friendship, band or political party with a breezeblock-thick dossier of how terrible everything was, you are faced with two questions. “It was so bad, why did you stay?” and “how come you spent all those years telling us how great everything was?” Airbrushing large chunks of your history away is hard enough at the best of times, never mind when you've been broadcasting it to the online horde for years.
It may seem churlish to ride Leanne for looking for love in all the wrong places – who among us has not done that? But it’s like Raylan Givens says “If you run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. If you run into assholes all day, you're the asshole.” From the dope dealer who defined her teenage years, to the meth head she made her life partner it may be that Leanne has common cause with people as psychotic as her. One thing that guarantees is conflict and even her harshest critics would say she delivers the goods on that score. That is after all her prime motivation.
We could go on. When 13-year-old YouTube star Talia Joy died of leukaemia, Freelee used the opportunity to shit on the scientifically proven chemotherapy and promote the scientifically worthless raw food diet. “Don’t dismiss the power of a raw vegan diet because that is what heals your body. Chemotherapy and poisoning your cells does not heal your body.” she dribbled “How can you get well by injecting poison into your veins?”9
She also spread the garbage idea that periods are toxic, telling her crew of flunkies after losing her periods for nine months “A lot of people are like "that's unhealthy" and "that's terrible." But is it? It felt good. It felt right. I just instinctively felt that I was still ovulating because I felt so good. I still believe that, largely, menstruation is toxicity leaving the body.”
Interestingly, actual doctors disagree. Dr. Jen Gunter, OB/GYN and women’s health advocate responded “This is a very dangerous idea and displays a complete lack of understanding of female biology and the human body in general. Periods are not bad or filled with toxins. This trend is alarming because it comes from someone who clearly has no understanding of periods or even biology in general and is just another form of body shaming.”10
This is the real Freelee - a caucasoid devil who cannot be trusted. She’s not good on detail. She’s antiscience. Her dietary advice is garbage. She’s a white psychopath.
a May not resemble actual dialogue.