British "MasterChef" critic and magazine editor William Sitwell is battling backlash over a comment he made about "killing vegans, one by one."
BuzzFeed reported that Sitwell, the former editor of Waitrose Food magazine, made the statement in an email to freelance writer Selene Nelson, who had pitched a series on plant-based cooking.
In his response, Sitwell reportedly wrote to her, "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?"
Following an uproar, Sitwell, who is also a food critic on BBC's "MasterChef," apologized and said that he is resigning from his position at the magazine, which states it features "recipes and articles from the world's best chefs and food writers."
But he said in a statement Wednesday on Instagram that he wanted to make two remarks.
View this post on Instagram
Morning all. Some news: : John Brown statement, 31.10.18. ‘John Brown Media has today announced that William Sitwell is stepping down as Editor of the Waitrose & Partners Food magazine with immediate effect. Andrew Hirsch, CEO, said: ‘I respect William’s decision and have therefore accepted his resignation. I would like to thank him for his work with ourselves and Waitrose over many years and wish him well for the future. We will work with Waitrose & Partners to appoint a new editor.’ . Waitrose statement, 31.10.18. ‘We have today been informed by John Brown Media, who produce the Waitrose & Partners Food Magazine, that William Sitwell is stepping down as Editor of Waitrose & Partners Food magazine with immediate effect. In the light of William's recent email remarks, we have 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.’ . 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. There is no more talented art director than Kerry Wakefield, my lovely deputy Jess, PA Morgan, Dr Lucy heading food, Ashleigh on features, Kat and the fab art and subbing team. Thank you - we never stopped laughing (til now!). : This issue from Jan 2017 - with a striking image taken by the gifted Jonathan Gregson - is one I’m particularly proud of. We even refused advertising from those proffering meat-based products.
A post shared by William Sitwell (@williamsitwell) on
"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," he wrote online. "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."
Nelson, who has written for HuffPost, Salon and various other publications, posted what she said was the email exchange on Twitter earlier this week.
In her initial email to Sitwell, Nelson pitched him a regular series on "vegan cooking" for people who are "keen to discover plant-based meal ideas."
"Even for people not looking to change their diet, I think having some more healthy, eco-friendly meals won't go amiss, particularity in the New Year! I envisage the feature including recipes as well as commentary, news, maybe with some collaborations with top vegan chefs too (I've already chatted to some who are interested)," she wrote.
Let me get this straight: magazine editor makes obvious joke in private email to freelancer who pitched him - and now he's had to resign?— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) October 31, 2018
All because the vegan social media mafia threw their lentil toys out of the pram? Ridiculous. https://t.co/6HESiVMHg4
View this post on Instagram
A post shared by Amelia & Katey (@vegan.life.aandk) on
View this post on Instagram
"Freelance journalist Selene Nelson emailed William Sitwell to propose a series of features on plant-based recipes, but he replied: "How about a series on killing vegans, one by one?" He expanded: "Ways to trap them?" How to interrogate them properly? Expose their hypocrisy? Force-feed them meat? Make them eat and drink red wine?" Waitrose said he "has gone too far"." The supermarket issued a statement after Sitwell's comments to food writer Nelson were reported on BuzzFeed News. "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," the statement said. Sitwell, well-known as one of the critics regularly invited in to taste the contestants' creations on TV cookery show Masterchef, later issued his own apology, stating: "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." https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-46024087 🛑 @williamsitwell You should be ashamed. It's 2018 and your disgusting, bigoted and hypocritical views aren't welcome. @waitroseandpartners Take some action and show that you have values and believe in your statement by getting rid of Mr. Sitwell immediately. Do you really want to be associated with someone spreading hate speech and insighting murder? 🛑 #waitrose #veganism #williamsitwell
A post shared by only zombies eat flesh (@unicorns.are.vegan.x) on
Following Sitwell's response about "killing vegans," trapping them, interrogating them and exposing their "hypocrisy," Nelson emailed him back, writing that "I'm not quite sure what you mean by 'exposing their hypocrisy,' but I'm certainly interested in exploring why just the mention of veganism seems to make some people so hostile. It sounds like you have some opinions on this? I'd love to know more!"
Nelson said on Instagram that she is a vegan because "I don't support the torment and slaughter of 156 billion animals each year, nor the catastrophic devastation it causes our planet."
Sitwell is known for his role on "MasterChef" - a critic with an "acid tongue and a distinct dislike of square plates," according to the Sun.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said in a statement that "In lashing out defensively and nastily over a struck nerve, Mr Sitwell has shown that he's out of touch with respectful dialogue - as well as with the British public, including Waitrose shoppers."
John Brown Media, which produces Waitrose & Partners Food magazine, confirmed Wednesday that Sitwell is stepping down as editor.