Waitrose Food magazine’s editor suggested a series about killing vegans while responding to a journalist’s pitch for the publication.
William Sitwell told vegan freelancer Selene Nelson that it could feature force-feeding them meat and exposing ‘their hypocrisy’.
Nelson told MailOnline she was ‘shocked’ by his hostile reply to her pitching a ‘plant-based meal series’ for the supermarket’s magazine.
Sitwell replied: ‘Hi Selene. 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? Make them eat steak and drink red wine?’
Nelson (right) was shocked when Sitwell (left) responded to her pitch by suggesting a series on killing vegans
He apologised to ‘anyone who has been offended or upset’ by the email – which was first reported by BuzzFeed News – as a spokesperson for the chain said he had ‘gone too far’.
The magazine claims on its website to have 680,000 readers. Sitwell writes for several UK publications and is a critic on Masterchef UK.
HuffPost and Food Republic writer Nelson said she has never experienced such hostility when pitching to a media platform.
‘I was just shocked because I had never had a response like that,’ she said. ‘I said to him that it “seems like you have some strong opinions on this”.’
She says then wrote to her again suggesting that millennials were ‘do-gooders’. Nelson stressed she wasn’t telling him to become a vegan, just include a few more plant-based recipes.
A spokesperson for Waitrose said: ‘Even though this was a private email William’s gone too far and his words are extremely inappropriate, insensitive and absolutely do not represent our views.’
A spokesperson for Waitrose said that the editor’s remarks went too far and branded the email ‘extremely inappropriate’
Sitwell said in a statement: ‘I love and respect people of all appetites be they vegan, vegetarian or meat eaters, which I show week in week out through my writing, editing and broadcasting. I apologise profusely to anyone who has been offended or upset by this.’
But earlier this year, writing about 2018’s ‘foodie trends’ in The Times, he slammed an ‘avalanche’ of vegan cookbooks.
‘Then, like an avalanche of Tory ministerial resignations, came the vegan snowball,’ he wrote. ‘It had slow beginnings among shampoo-averse hippies in the 1970s, but now vegans are parking their tanks on all of our lawns.’
Nelson believes hostility toward vegans is driven by a fear that plant-based diets threaten the food they already enjoy.
‘I think a lot of food writers tend to be quite traditional and view vegans as having an impact on the things they like,’ she said. ‘But it [my pitch] was just about trying to include a little bit more plant-based recipes. You don’t have to be vegan and three’s nothing I said in my pitch about meat being bad.’
She added that she accepts his apology but said as an editor it would benefit him to be more open to plant-based recipes.