Waitrose & Partners is a chain for British supermarkets. Under its umbrella is Waitrose Food Magazine, a publication that focuses on food articles and recipes. Seems innocent enough. But the magazine's editor recently came under fire, and was forced to step down after making some inappropriate "jokes."
The editor is named William Sitwell and the joke that caused controversy was about “killing vegans.” He made this joke in response to a vegan freelance journalist pitching work to the magazine.
Journalist Selene Nelson said the response came after she suggested “a series on vegan cooking”, with plant-based recipes, to Sitwell for the publication.
The email conversation between Sitwell and Nelson was published by BuzzFeed, and Nelson tweeted the email exchange after the article came out.
Following the article on @BuzzFeed – and in the interests of transparency – here's my original pitch to the editor… https://t.co/LTv89Nn9bW— Selene Nelson Ⓥ (@Selene Nelson Ⓥ)1540842682.0
This is Nelson's original email, with the pitch to Waitrose Food Magazine:
This is Sitwell's response:
"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?"
Selene responded with this:
Speaking about the email on Twitter, Nelson said:
“I legit thought it was a hoax too when I got the reply … very strange when he could have just said ‘No thanks, I’ll pass’.”
People on Twitter agree. One user was very angry about Sitwell's response and dared Waitrose to respond:
@minniethemooch Hi - even though this was a private email conversation, we feel William’s email is unacceptable and… https://t.co/1OA09ag1VS— Waitrose & Partners (@Waitrose & Partners)1540911317.0
Sitwell also responded, and said:
“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 apologize profusely to anyone who has been offended or upset by this.”
In addition to editing Waitrose’s food magazine, Sitwell has frequently appeared as a critic for contestants’ work on food competition Masterchef UK. No word has been given on whether or not that will continue, but he has stepped down as editor for Waitrose Food Magazine.
People sympathized with Nelson and voiced their disgust with Sitwell:
@Selene_Nelson I’m sorry you received this RIDICULOUS response. I hope @waitrose apologised to you. They should sen… https://t.co/hLOTO62Czp— Hannah Sierp (@Hannah Sierp)1540849997.0
@Selene_Nelson @BuzzFeed (Him, obviously haha)— L 👻🕸🎃 (@L 👻🕸🎃)1540847263.0
@Selene_Nelson @BuzzFeed I can’t understand how a group of people who have chosen to not harm animals and to reduce… https://t.co/qHjxCAn7ow— Emma Stickland (@Emma Stickland)1540856303.0
@Selene_Nelson @alittleacorn1 @BuzzFeed What an awful human being. A simple 'thank you for your email but we are no… https://t.co/rJNVihxiym— Sonia Randall (@Sonia Randall)1540920128.0
@Selene_Nelson @BuzzFeed This is hate crime against a minority. He should be prosecuted for incitement to violence. William Trump Sitwell— vesna main (@vesna main)1540880190.0
@Selene_Nelson @BuzzFeed Well done for making this public he behaved appallingly & it quite rightly cost him his jo… https://t.co/kWhydxpfGb— dominic dyer (@dominic dyer)1541016606.0
Some people told Nelson how much they liked her idea:
@Selene_Nelson @BuzzFeed This was a great idea and this kind of initiative would definitely influence my choice of… https://t.co/qRtQcYa2t6— Claire Gibney (@Claire Gibney)1540896227.0
@Selene_Nelson @BuzzFeed Your idea sounded fantastic, I would have loved to have seen @waitrose go with it. I appla… https://t.co/QJSfWu5JJa— MaisyMooCow (@MaisyMooCow)1540850135.0
Many complimented Nelson on her classy response:
@Selene_Nelson @BuzzFeed How you managed such a dignified response to such a ridiculous and hostile message I'm not… https://t.co/drgn3mzBA2— Sam Underwood (@Sam Underwood)1540850033.0
@Selene_Nelson @craftyvegangirl @BuzzFeed A lesson in graceful responses 👏— 🕊Conscientious Vegan Ⓥ (@🕊Conscientious Vegan Ⓥ)1540894705.0
@Selene_Nelson @BuzzFeed Great response to him. Not sure I could have been so restrained. ❤️— Sian Denereaz (@Sian Denereaz)1540891008.0
@Selene_Nelson @BuzzFeed I love your response!— Sapna (@Sapna)1540883266.0
@Selene_Nelson @BuzzFeed What a gracious response Selene: well done you. What strange behaviour from… https://t.co/z8ev1I7Z8j— Cowslip 🇬🇧 (@Cowslip 🇬🇧)1540934517.0
Sitwell not only damaged his career, but Waitrose's reputation. A new editor will likely calm the rage however:
@Selene_Nelson @BuzzFeed Waitrose won't be getting anymore of my £££ until they have a new editor...… https://t.co/dEFVJYqvsi— Emma Simmons (@Emma Simmons)1540915465.0
Let this be a lesson to all: joking or not, hateful comments toward anyone should never be made.
A version of this article originally appeared on Press Association.