William Sitwell has resigned as editor of Waitrose’s food magazine with immediate effect after proposing an article about killing vegans.
The writer and food critic, who has also appeared as a judge on Masterchef, was responding to an email from freelance journalist Selene Nelson, who pitched him a series of vegan recipes.
In his reply, first reported by Buzzfeed, Sitwell wrote: “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? Make them eat steak and drink red wine?”
Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
Nelson said she had “never seen anything like it” from an editor. “If William Sitwell wants to continue eating meat and hating vegans, that’s his prerogative, but to have this attitude towards others when he’s representing Waitrose is seriously bizarre,” she told the website.
Sitwell has since apologised and described his email as a joke made in haste, The Times reports. “I apologise profusely to anyone who has been offended or upset by this,” the former editor said.
In a statement, Waitrose said it was the “right and proper move” for Sitwell to stand down.
Times restaurant critic and columnist Giles Coran said he had “great sympathy” for Sitwell.
“Vegans are not a race or a gender or a sexual orientation or a differently abled group,” he tweeted. “They just choose to eat plants. You should be able to take the piss and not lose your job.”
But author and historian Greg Jenner agreed it was the right decision. “I am a fierce defender of jokes, but jokes have to be expected - they rely on context,” he said. “This was a bizarre response to a professional pitch from a food journalist who expected a professional response.”
Create an account with the same email registered to your subscription to unlock access.