Vegans have reacted with fury to the news that Waitrose Food Magazine's Editor joked about killing them.
William Sitwell made the comments after a vegan journalist wrote to him pitching an idea about a plant-based meal series.
In response, Sitwell wrote: "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?"
Hostile to vegans
Buzzfeed published his response to food journalist Selene Nelson, and contacted Sitwell, who said he was sorry 'to anyone who has been offended or upset by this'.
"I've never seen anything like it," Nelson told Buzzfeed. "I've written about many divisive topics, like capital punishment and murder cases and domestic violence, and I've never had a response like that to any of my articles or pitches.
"And he's the editor. He's representing Waitrose and he's talking about 'killing vegans, one by one'?...I'm not judging people who eat meat - I wasn't a vegan for 28 years of my life. But having such an angry, vitriolic response to someone who's simply trying to reduce the harm they cause to animals and the environment is something I can't understand."
Vegans took to social media to vent their rage, with one Twitter user writing: "I'm sure looking at the investment that company [Waitrose] is making in expanding their vegan range, they would be a tad p*ssed off if the vegan contingent decided to up sticks? Maybe Mr Sitwell would be looking for a new f*cking job?"
Vegan and passionate animal rights activist Peter Egan wrote: "Waitrose needs to change the editor of its food magazine."
Another added: "Poor old Waitrose. As if times weren't tough enough, they find that their tame food writer William Sitwell cannot disguise the contempt in which he holds their vegan customers or should I say former customers."
'Inappropriate and insensitive'
Sitwell released a statement 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.
"I apologize profusely to anyone who has been offended or upset by this."
A spokesperson for Waitrose added: "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."