A few weeks ago, William Sitwell, the editor of Waitrose Food — a monthly magazine published by a British supermarket chain — decided to leave the mag after an email exchange in which he wrote about hunting and killing vegans went viral. Naturally, this led a lot of people to weigh in on veganism. The general consensus on Twitter seemed to be that vegans do, in fact, suck. Like really suck. Like Hoover-manufactured-a-sex-robot levels of sucking. Because now they made some nice British man lose his job. Those non-flesh eating monsters!
But that’s a shit takeaway. When freelance journalist Selene Nelson approached Sitwell, she wasn’t being a preachy vegan. She was a just an eager writer making a cold pitch to an editor who she hoped might be interested in some “plant-based meal” coverage for a publication that boasts over 680,000 monthly readers on its website. Statistically speaking, there had to be a relatively significant segment of that readership looking to add some veg-friendly dishes to their lives. Especially considering the UK’s current “vegan boom.”
Sitwell, however, clearly had a raging hate-on for vegans, which prompted him to reply in a totally unprofessional manner, as he wrote back with:
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?
Oh, that saucy British humor! What a scamp!
The fact that the editor’s apologies were deemed insufficient and he lost his job isn’t about whether or not vegans can be preachy pains in the ass. That’s a given. It’s about his derisive mockery, which makes his ability to do his job suspect. It’s like the editor of Cat Fancy making some stale crack about killing hairless cats (don’t you dare Cat Fancy!).
As Waitrose magazine is run by a grocery store that’s made a huge push into vegan food over the last year, higher-ups were obviously invested in informing readers about how to make the most of them. There’s not much point in carrying jackfruit if no one knows what the hell a jackfruit is. And why would the store bother to make this change? Because, when you come down to it, meatless dining is not only an increasingly popular approach, it’s an environmentally sound one.
This year, the Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy published a first of its kind study that examined the emissions from 35 of the globe’s largest meat and dairy companies. It turns out the five biggest meat and dairy corporations (JBS, Tyson, Cargill, Dairy Farmers of America and Fonterra), when grouped, are currently responsible for more annual greenhouse gas emissions than ExxonMobil, Shell or BP. Hell, the combined emissions of the top 20 meat and dairy corporations exceed those of entire nations like the UK, Canada, Germany, and Australia. The footprint of large-scale factory farming is unfathomably massive.
So can you — who are probably not the editor of a food magazine with owners who are financially invested in veganism — still accuse vegans of being proselytizing asses? Sure. Have at it. But let’s be real, so are sports fanatics, crazy multi-level marketing people, and anti-vaxxers. At least vegans have some science backing up their logic. Maybe that’s why they get lambasted so hard. Because there are a lot of vegans who aren’t looking to be self-righteous or convert people, but they still get treated like they’re camped out in everyone’s yards looking to rip bacon out of their children’s mouths and overturn rib-laden barbecues. Like Nelson, in this very case.
Point being: Ya’ll doth protest too much. Could it be that vegans feel so threatening in part because their very existence reminds meat eaters that eating a storebought steak involves ecological compromise? That’s the conclusion Bryony Gordon came to in an op-ed for The Telegraph.
On the November third, she wrote:
We are scared of vegans because, like the newly sober or smoke-free person holding up a mirror to their hard-partying friend, we see in them the future, and it is one we don’t particularly like because it doesn’t involve rare steak or crackling. Crackling! We know that adopting a vegan lifestyle is better not just for our bodies but also for the planet; we are aware that the harvesting of animals for our convenience could one day kill us all.
That’s an irritating load of information to have swirling around every time you want a damn burger. It’s natural to feel some level of annoyance with the people whose beliefs remind you of your own habits. But folks had better get good and comfortable because eating a plant-based diet is only going to continue to grow in acceptance among those who have the means and resources. And, on occasion, they might talk about it. Not often, just here and there. A normal amount.
So you weirdos can all chill with your meat spiking. No one wants to snatch the cow out of your cold dead hands, Heston. Sitwell may have thought he was being a cutting Brit when he sent that email. But for the freelancer receiving it, he was acting sort of unhinged. Like a real carnivore.
Jokes aside, instead of targeting writers without health insurance, we should all make a real effort to save our vegan irritation for anyone going out of their way to be evangelical dickbags. Because it doesn’t matter what the cause, being an evangelical dickbag is always ripe for criticism. So go attack the Facebook friend trying to sell you makeup and Tupperware and leave us to our chard.
**Extremely low whisper: Though even the preachy vegans might give you a fun recipe for cutting down your meat footprint. Like some cool cashew-cheese and fake-beef nachos to snack on while the world literally burns.**