Culture

From Activated Almonds To Nazi Symbolism: Tracking The Trajectory of Pete Evans’ Conspiracies

We try to make sense of it all so you don't have to.

Pete Evans — chef and now, far-right conspiracy theorist — is making headlines for all the wrong reasons yet again. This time, he’s posted the same nazi symbol on his social media that was used by the Christchurch terrorist.

Evans’ post features an image depicting a caterpillar wearing a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat saying “you’ve changed” to a butterfly with a ‘black sun’ symbol drawn onto its wings saying “we’re supposed to”. The black sun symbol was appropriated by Nazi Germany and is now used by neo-Nazis worldwide.

When users pointed out that the image contained the black sun, Pete Evans wrote “I was waiting for someone to notice that”.

Though the post has now been removed from both his Instagram and Facebook pages, with the celebrity chef claiming the image is “like a Rorschach test” and that people should be “careful to jump to conclusions”.

He’s also posted an “apology”, on his Instagram, saying:

“Sincere apologies to anyone who misinterpreted a previous post of a caterpillar and a butterfly having a chat over a drink and perceived that I was promoting hatred. I look forward to studying all of the symbols that have ever existed and research them thoroughly before posting.”

But with far-right conspiracy theories and extremism on the rise even among our friends and families, the descent of Pete Evans from sharing misleading health information to downright sharing neo-Nazi symbols is one worth exploring.

NOTE: This is by no means an exhaustive list.

An Activated Almond A Day Keeps The Doctor Away

Back in 2012, Pete Evans became the butt of all the social media jokes when an article tracking what he ate in a day appeared in the Sunday Age. He was mocked for his diet of “alkalised water”, “activated almonds” and “cultured vegetables”. It became a whole thing. It was trending on Twitter, people were talking about it on Reddit and bodybuilding forums, it was even made fun of on the Today show.

But I mean, it was 2012 — a much simpler time. He wasn’t trying to convince anyone some alkaline water was going to cure coronavirus.

People wouldn’t even bat an eye if someone mentioned eating activated almonds in 2020. In fact, if Evans posted about activated almonds today, a collective sigh of relief would probably be heard all over Australia.

Fluoride-Free Water, And Paleo For Babies

Here’s where things start to get real. Evans started spreading misinformation about what is healthy and what is not — a clear difference from sharing a diet which was perceived as wacky by many.

After travelling to meet them in December 2014, Evans backed a group called ‘Fluoride Free WA’, claiming drinking water with fluoride is bad for your health. He was slammed by health professionals and scientists as this stands firmly in opposition to science which has proven fluoride’s important role in preventing tooth decay in Australians.

The following year, Evans gave out a bunch of unsafe medical advice he was not qualified to give, like recommending to an osteoporosis patient that they remove dairy from their diet as it can “remove the calcium from your bones”. Perhaps most dangerous among his advice was a paleo diet not only for adults (which nutritionists say can also lead to health issues) but also for babies.

Evans wrote a paleo cookbook for babies and toddlers which appeared to advocate replacing breast and formula milk with his homemade bone broth. The recommendation to provide other foods to children under 6 months, which are dangerous to them, prompted an investigation by the Federal Health Department.

The Magic Pill

By 2017, Evans had moved on to promoting a keto diet through his self-produced documentary named The Magic Pill. Sounds familiar.

The ‘documentary’ — which aired on Netflix — falsely claimed that the keto diet could treat a range of chronic health issues, including cancer, autism and asthma. Experts warned the diet is “not without risk” and can, in fact, lead to “unhealthy weight loss, kidney stones” and “nutritional deficiencies and immune system issues” in kids.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) petitioned for it to be removed from the streaming service due to the risk of misinformation spreading.

Gazing Into The Sun — Nature’s Medicine

 

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A post shared by Pete Evans (@chefpeteevans)

Fast forward to December 2018, Pete Evans posts this Instagram recommends sungazing as “free medicine”.

If you’re wondering what the hell sungazing is, it’s exactly what it sounds like. You look directly into the rising or setting sun for 10 seconds at first, adding time as you keep up the practice. At this point, the AMA has had enough of telling people to ignore Evans’ “health advice”, but they don’t even know what’s about to hit them in 2020 bless their souls.

Here Are All The Things That Will (NOT, ABSOLUTELY DEFINITELY NOT) Cure Coronavirus

It’s no secret that the current pandemic has been used to bring conspiracy theories into the mainstream. There has been a sharp increase in misinformation on social media, largely spread by far-right groups, who have also used the moment to popularise racist and anti-state messaging.

After Evans was let go from his co-hosting gig on My Kitchen Rules earlier this year, he has gone all in on this world.

He praised the work of a prominent anti-vaxxer, advised followers to disregard public health advise around wearing masks, claimed self-love and hugs could cure the virus (it cannot), and opened a ‘healing clinic in Byron Bay despite having no medical qualifications.

Though most of these instances have come with no real repercussions for Evans, he was fined $25,000 earlier this year by the Therapeutic Goods Administration after promoting BioChager devices as a cure for coronavirus to his 1.4 million (at the time – it’s now 1.5) Facebook followers.

In the midst of this, Evans was provided with a platform by 60 Minutes, which he later told his followers he was pleased about. He said was was playing “a game of chess” and felt he’d come out on top. This implies he not only knows exactly what he’s doing, but that he’s using the mainstream media’s tendency to disregard ethical reporting against them.

Now that the he has graduated from dangerous health conspiracies to full blown neo-Nazi territory, one can only hope that mainstream media will not continue to give him a platform for the purposes of ratings and so-called fairness.