The editor of Waitrose Food magazine has come under fire after an email surfaced in which he joked about "killing vegans".
William Sitwell, who is also a food critic and regular on BBC show MasterChef, suggested "a series on killing vegans" in an email response to freelance journalist, Selene Nelson, who contacted him with an idea for a feature of plant-based recipes for the magazine.
In his email back to Ms Nelson, Mr 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 and drink red wine?".
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After the email was made public by Ms Nelson, the food editor has been the subject of online criticism, including calls for him to be sacked as editor.
Waitrose has since announced that his email "absolutely doesn’t represent our views about vegans and vegan food."
'A silly joke'
A screenshot of the email from William Sitwell
In an interview with talkRADIO's Mike Graham, comedian and vegan, Carl Donnelly, said he thought the online response had been an overreaction.
"At no point when I was reading that [email] did I think he'd want to bring in some policies to murder vegans in society," Mr Donnelly said.
"I think it's quite a silly joke he's made."
The editor has received support from fellow food critic, Jay Rayner, who said his "thoughts and prayers" were with Mr Sitwell at this "tricky time".
In a statement, Mr Sitwell 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 apologise profusely to anyone who has been offended or upset by this.”