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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 November 2018

Is it justified that an anti-vegan joke cost the Waitrose magazine editor his job? 

One vegan convert thinks not, but says she's fed up of the passive aggression many non-vegans display towards those on plant-based diets

William Sitwell has apologised for his anti-vegan comments - but he has still been fired 
William Sitwell has apologised for his anti-vegan comments - but he has still been fired 

William Sitwell, editor of Waitrose magazine, was asked to step down from his role following a private email exchange being leaked in which he said: “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?”

Sitwell’s follow-up email states: “I like the idea of a column called The Honest Vegan; a millennial’s diary of earnest endeavour and bacon sandwiches...”

The words were sent in response to a freelance journalist’s suggestion that the magazine consider doing a plant-based meal series.

Sitwell, a one-time Masterchef judge, apologised for his comments, saying: “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.”

However, he was terminated from his job all the same, which has led to a debate as to whether the decision was justified. (Fast fact: Sitwell is the great nephew of Edith Sitwell of the famous Sitwell family.)

The Twitterati are divided in their opinion, with Sitwell supporters noting that "vegans can meat it out, but not take it", and “vegans have no sense of proportion or humour”. His critics, meanwhile, say Sitwell's email was a "pretty bizarre attempt at humour", and it “epitomises the pervasive culture of immature, aggressive prejudice”.

A vegan in The National office says she doesn’t think Sitwell should have lost his livelihood over what was obviously an attempt at being at humorous, but she further notes:

“It’s incredible and really quite strange how angry and aggressive [non-vegans] get. It’s as though, by my being vegan, I’m calling into question their decision. They feel the need to make snarky comments, such as plants have feelings, too.

“And yet, people are willfully keeping themselves ignorant, even in this smartphone and social media age, by not watching the videos that show just how barbaric the meat industry is, by not knowing the reality of how that sausage ended up on their plates. If they saw an animal’s throat being hacked off, the meat industry would collapse in a week.

“It’s ridiculous that Sitwell lost his job. I don’t think that should happen over a joke. But it was poor judgement sending it from his work email. I’m sure he’s not an evil man, I’m sure he doesn’t want all vegans dead, and I’m sure it was a joke, but a very crass one. Maybe he should be forced to go on a vegan diet or, better still, made to watch those videos.”

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Read more:

New restaurant guide focuses on honest ethical eateries, so which UAE restaurants made the cut?

How a hearty carnivore embraced vegan life

World Food Day: going vegan can combat global warming, says expert

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