The editor of Waitrose Food magazine, William Sitwell, is standing down with immediate effect after suggesting a series on “killing vegans, one by one”.
He was responding to an email pitch from freelance journalist Selene Nelson who had suggested features on plant-based recipes.
Sitwell, also a critic on Masterchef, apologised for any offence caused.
Waitrose said: “William’s email absolutely doesn’t represent our views about vegans and vegan food.”
In a statement, Waitrose said they’d been told by the company which produces the food magazine that Sitwell was leaving the post.
“In light of William’s recent 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,” the supermarket said.
“We have had a relationship with William for almost 20 years and we are grateful for his contribution to our business over that time.”
Nelson, who writes about food and travel, had suggested ideas on “healthy, eco-friendly meals” as “popularity of the movement is likely to continue to skyrocket”.
Sitwell had emailed back 10 minutes later, saying: “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?”
He also suggested making them eat steak and drink red wine, with Nelson responding: “I’m certainly interested in exploring why just the mention of veganism seems to make some people so hostile”.
She added she had drunk some “delicious (vegan) red wine last night so I’m sure a feature on that would appeal”.
His comments were met with fury from vegans, with one saying his comments had been “incredibly ignorant”.
The Humane Society had also called for him to be sacked.
But it was pointed out that Sitwell was “obviously joking”, with another twitter user saying the magazine publishers had overreacted.
Waitrose said at the time that even though it was a private email, “William’s gone too far” and that his words were “extremely inappropriate”.
Sitwell, who’s also a radio host, said in his own apology: “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.”
He’s yet to comment on leaving the magazine.