Opinion: That’s it, Pete Evans is cancelled

Aletha Wilkinson
·Head of Lifestyle
·7-min read

Well, he’s finally done it. After several years of racking up scandal after scandal, it seems Australia’s most controversial chef has finally cracked the secret of rendering his public image effectively radioactive: invoke the Nazis.

All it took was for him to post a simple, amateurishly photoshopped cartoon featuring a MAGA-hat wearing caterpillar talking to a butterfly, whose wings bear a depiction of the ‘black sun’, a design literally invented by the Nazi Party.

Pete Evans in a black tank top looking at the camera
Pete Evans may have gone too far with his latest misstep. Source: Facebook screenshot

I mean, of course. What else were you expecting? Something that makes sense?

Unlike, say, the swastika symbol, which is an ancient motif of several Eurasian religions, and has profound meaning beyond its repulsive Nazi associations, the ‘Black Sun’ was created to adorn Heinrich Himmler’s stronghold, and the SS headquarters, Wewelsberg castle.

Yes, that’s Heinrich Himmler, the head of the Nazi Party’s SS, who built extermination camps during World War Two, and ordered the deaths of roughly six million Jews as well as several hundred thousand Romani people.

We won’t be including the imagery in this article.

The Black Sun has since been broadly adopted as a not-especially covert signal by neo-Nazis, neo-fascists, the far right and white nationalists, who incorporate it into their propaganda materials and plaster it across t-shirts, flags and websites.

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Pete appeared to be aware of the Black Sun symbol, after someone noticed it in a comment underneath his post.

“The symbol on the butterfly is a representation of the black sun,” the commenter wrote. “Lol.”

To which Pete replied:

“I was waiting for someone to see that.”

He was waiting for someone to see it.

Screenshot of Pete Evans replying to comments on Facebook
Pete Evans was waiting for someone to notice what he had posted. Source: Facebook screenshot

Yahoo Lifestyle is not suggesting that Pete Evans is literally a Nazi sympathiser.

Today, Pete has issued an apology via his Instagram page.

“Sincere apologies to anyone who misinterpreted a previous post of a caterpillar and a butterfly having a chat over a drink,” he wrote.

It’s the classic “I’m sorry if you were offended...” apology.

Pete Evans apologising on his Facebook page
He has since posted an apology to his Instagram page. Source: Instagram screenshot

The cartoon has now cost Pete his position on the cast of I’m a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!, with Network Ten announcing his axing this morning.

“Network 10 can confirm that Pete Evans will not be appearing on this season of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!” a spokesperson told Yahoo Lifestyle.

Pete also lost his publishing contract with Pan Macmillan, who quickly sought to distance themselves from him yesterday.

“Pan Macmillan does not support the recent posts made by Pete Evans,” the company posted to its Facebook page.

“Those views are not our views as a company or the views of our staff. Pan Macmillan is currently finalising its contractual relationship with Pete Evans and as such will not be entering any further publishing agreements moving forward.

“If any retailer wishes to return Pete Evans' books please contact Pan Macmillan.”

Petition to drop his books

There is now a rapidly growing petition calling on booksellers to cut ties with Pete and return his books.

“Target, Kmart, Big W, David Jones and Dymocks need to commit to removing all Pete Evans cookbooks from shelves before Christmas,” the petition reads.

As many know, this is far from the first time Pete has made a public misstep in recent times.

In 2016 he co-authored a cookbook for infants and children that included a potentially lethal-to-babies recipe for a bone broth ‘baby formula substitute’, containing ‘dangerous’ levels of vitamin A.

“In my view, there's a very real possibility that a baby may die if this book goes ahead,” Professor Heather Yeatman, president of the Public Health Association of Australia, told the Australian Women’s Weekly at the time.

After the book, Bubba Yum Yum: The Paleo Way was subsequently dropped by its publisher Pan Macmillan, Pete and his co-authors self-published. But of the 2017 update, the Dietitians’ Association of Australia noted it was still a hazard.

Pete's 'Happy Tummy Brew' bone broth formula recipe
Pete's 'Happy Tummy Brew' bone broth formula recipe was slammed by the DAA. Source: Screenshot

“The authors seem to have made a serious mistake with this second version of their liver and broth recipe, suggesting they do not understand the basic scientific and nutrition information relevant for infant feeding,” the DAA said.

“They have said publicly that they have tried to make it safe by reworking the original recipe, and increasing the age for which it’s suggested - from 0-6 months to now be 6-12 months, but they have failed spectacularly to meet any safe standards.

"This is just another example of the serious dangers of following the health and medical advice of unqualified people."

Paleo crusader

Undeterred, Pete continued his Paleo crusade, building a veritable army of adherents despite being entirely unqualified in nutrition or dietetics, and despite his lucrative – reportedly $800,000 a year – role as a judge on channel Seven’s My Kitchen Rules, which required him to taste a wide variety of foods that directly contradicted his beliefs about healthful eating.

In 2016 Pete declared he never used sunscreen, calling it “poisonous chemicals”.

"The silly thing is people put on normal chemical sunscreen then lay out in the sun for hours on end and think that they are safe because they have covered themselves in poisonous chemicals, which is a recipe for disaster as we are witnessing these days,” he said in a Facebook Q&A.

"We need to respect the sun but not hide from it either as it is so beneficial for us, but use common sense. The goal is always never to burn yourself."

The comments were roundly criticised by experts and skin-cancer victims alike.

“Good luck with that,” wrote ABC journalist Mark Colvin, alongside a photo of his own badly scarred forehead, the result of melanoma removal. Mark died of cancer the following year.

Close-up of Mark Colvin's melanoma removal scarring
Journalist Mark Colvin made a pointed example of his own melanoma-removal scars after Pete denounced sunscreen as 'toxic'. Picture: Twitter

With a blockbuster show on their hands, though, Seven made no move to distance themselves from Pete’s worrying attitudes.

As Pete’s views moved increasingly towards the fringe, while the show rated well, Seven continued to turn a blind eye,

Too much for Seven

It wasn’t until Pete was slapped with two infringement notices and a $25,000 fine by the Therapeutic Goods Association for spruiking a $15,000 “‘Biocharger’ that he told his 1.4 million Facebook followers could help in relation to COVID-19, which he called the “Wuhan Coronavirus”, that Seven finally cut ties.

Since then, Pete has gone on to:

  • Claim the Coronavirus pandemic is a hoax. “There is a fake Pandemic out there,” he said in a Facebook Live video.

  • Claim government health bodies are deliberately propagating illness, saying, “our governments and health authorities want people to be sick.”

  • Question the validity of the Coronavirus vaccines currently being developed and tested, saying, ”who knows what will happen, when foreign, poisonous, toxic, substances enter your body..”

  • Promote fringe author Thomas Cowan, whose book The Contagion Myth claims viruses are not real and that illness is instead caused by mobile phone towers, in particular the 5G network.

  • Make the entirely unsubstantiated claim that the flu vaccine “lowers the immune system”.

The list goes on. And for these, and myriad other reasons, Yahoo Lifestyle Australia will no longer be reporting on any of Pete Evans’ activity going forward.

We believe that his contribution to the public discourse is toxic and deserves the least possible amount of exposure.

Until Pete Evans accepts the validity of science and sincerely, plausibly, meaningfully issues an unqualified apology for his repeated, dangerous misfires, there is no place for his thoughts or opinions in the Australian media landscape.

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