Photo: Sarsmis (iStock)

Journalist Selene Nelson had an idea for a regular feature on vegan cooking, so she pitched it to a magazine. The response she got back suggested a new angle: “How about a series on killing vegans, one by one?”

Buzzfeed reports that William Sitwell—editor of the Waitrose Food magazine, author, and a regular critic on MasterChef U.K.—responded to Nelson’s pitch in the following way:

Hi Selene

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? Make them eat steak and drink red wine?

WILLIAM SITWELL

You can see the Nelson’s (totally reasonable and professional) pitch, Sitwell’s (neither of those things) response, and Nelson’s (pretty awesome, gotta say) reply below.

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Buzzfeed also references another response from Sitwell, not included in the Tweet above. After Nelson’s email second, email, he replied, “I like the idea of a column called The Honest Vegan; a millennial’s diary of earnest endeavour and bacon sandwiches...”

You don’t have to be a journalist to see that Sitwell’s initial response is what you might call “super unprofessional,” at best. As Nelson, put it to Buzzfeed, “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... To have this attitude towards others when he’s representing Waitrose is seriously bizarre. I wasn’t telling him to go vegan, or not eat meat, or that it’s bad to—I was just suggesting including some more plant-based recipes in the magazine.”

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Waitrose (also a retail chain) has predictably spent a lot of time responding to concerned readers on Twitter. The response is always a variation on the statement the company gave Buzzfeed:

“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.”

As for Sitwell, his response to Buzzfeed included an apology, albeit one of the “to those who were offended” sort:

“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.”

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Think what you will about plant-based diets or meat-based diets or cream-filled snack cake-based diets. Surely we can all get together on the idea of not being a total dick to people to whom you’re not giving a job, just for the sake of being a dick?