The editor of Waitrose Food magazine has announced he will step down from his role with immediate effect after coming under fire for a joke 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 a statement, Waitrose & Partners Food Magazine said it believed that it was the "right and proper move" for Mr Sitwell to step down as editor.
The statement said: "In the light of William's recent email remarks, we've told John Brown Media that we believe this is the right and proper move - we will be working with them to appoint a new editor for the magazine.
"We have had a relationship with William for almost 20 years and are grateful for his contribution to our business over that time."
In an Instagram post, Mr Sitwell said the joke was "ill-judged" and reiterated his apology to "any food and life-loving vegan" offended by his comments.
He wrote: "Today I just want to make two points. Firstly, to reiterate my apology to any food- and life-loving vegan who was genuinely offended by remarks written by me as an ill-judged joke in a private email and now widely reported.
"Second, a word about my team on Waitrose & Partners Food. For two amazing decades I’ve worked with simply the best crew in the business."
'Never seen anything like it'
The recipient of Mr Sitwell's email, Ms Nelson, said she had been shocked by his reply.
She told BuzzFeed News: "I've never seen anything like it. 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'?"
She added: "If William Sitwell wants to continue eating meat and hating vegans, that's his prerogative, but to have this attitude towards others when he's representing Waitrose is seriously bizarre."