The long-time editor of Waitrose Food magazine has resigned after suggesting a series on ‘killing vegans, one by one’.
The comments by William Sitwell were made in email correspondence with freelance journalist Selene Nelson, who had suggested features on plant-based recipes.
Nelson had pitched Sitwell ideas for articles on ‘healthy, eco-friendly meals’ as ‘popularity of the movement is likely to continue to skyrocket’.
Sitwell replied: “Thanks for this. How about a series on killing vegans, one by one. Ways to trap them? How to interrogate them properly? Expose their hypocrisy? Force-feed them meat?”
He also suggested making them eat steak and drink red wine. This prompted Nelson to respond: “I’m certainly interested in exploring why just the mention of veganism seems to make some people so hostile.”
The comments were reported first by Buzzfeed, prompting a furious response from the vegan community and many people calling for Sitwell to be sacked.
With pressure on him mounting, and Waitrose calling his comments ‘extremely inappropriate’, Sitwell took to social media to announce that he was ‘stepping down’ as editor.
In a statement, Waitrose said: “In the light of William’s recent email remarks … we believe this is a right and proper move.” On Instagram, Sitwell apologized to anyone who had been ‘genuinely offended’ over what he called an ‘ill-judged joke’.
Sitwell has won support from some quarters over the incident. Giles Coren, a food writer and columnist for The Times, says: “I have great sympathy for William Sitwell. It was a stupid email but should not be a career-ender. Vegans are not a race or a gender or a sexual orientation or a differently-abled group. They just choose to eat plants.”