The editor of a British food magazine resigned Wednesday after sparking a furor with a joke about running stories on “killing vegans.”
Waitrose Food magazine said editor William Sitwell had quit, adding that it considered this “the right and proper move.”
Freelance journalist Selene Nelson told BuzzFeed News that after she pitched a series of stories on vegan cooking to Waitrose Food, Sitwell replied with an email saying: “How about a series on killing vegans, one by one.”
The email added: “Expose their hypocrisy? Force-feed them meat? Make them eat steak and drink red wine?”
Nelson said she was shocked by the remarks and found Sitwell’s attitude “seriously bizarre.”
Some vegans expressed outrage at the comments, and the Humane Society International called for Sitwell to be fired.
But some journalists defended the editor, saying his critics had overreacted.
Dominic Ponsford, editor of trade publication the Press Gazette, said Sitwell’s resignation was “rather sad.”
“I think, sadly, we live in quite a censorious age and people are rather easily offended,” he said. “I think irony doesn’t translate well on email or social media. I think it’s why William Sitwell has lost his job.”
Sitwell said on Instagram that the comments had been “an ill-judged joke in a private email,” and apologized to those he’d offended.
The magazine is published by John Brown Media for supermarket chain Waitrose & Partners, which recently launched a new range of vegan dishes.