Ve­gans used as short­hand for be­ing preachy

Kent Messenger Maidstone - - FRONT PAGE -

Per­haps the most mid­dle class con­tro­versy of all time has erupted af­ter the ed­i­tor of Waitrose Food mag­a­zine lost his job over some strongly-worded com­ments about ve­gans.

William Sitwell stood down af­ter sug­gest­ing a series on “killing ve­gans, one by one” to a free­lance jour­nal­ist who had pitched an idea.

Sitwell’s re­ply reached a wider au­di­ence - you could say he was grassed up, to use a plant­based pun - lead­ing to his res­ig­na­tion.

The episode led to much me­dia chin-stroking over ‘the power of ve­gans’, as their mass­ranked sup­pos­edly as­sem­bled on so­cial me­dia to force a man out of his job.

Ac­cord­ing to one re­port, ‘The Hu­mane So­ci­ety also called for him to be sacked’, which strikes me as a fun­nier joke than the one Sitwell was ap­par­ently mak­ing in his email.

The thing is you prob­a­bly can’t blame ve­gans for be­ing a bit touchy; for many years they have been used as a kind of lazy short­hand for be­ing preachy and self-sat­is­fied.

As with all stereo­types, it’s un­fair on the ma­jor­ity but the ones who con­form to the cliche are gen­er­ally the ones with the high­est pub­lic pro­file (hav­ing seen some of the car­toon­ish ‘jour­nal­ists’ cho­sen to speak on our be­half in TV de­bates about press free­dom, I do know how the ve­gans feel).

It re­minded me of an in­ci­dent which hap­pened a few years ago.

I was book­ing a ta­ble at a res­tau­rant when the woman on the phone asked if me and my wife would be okay sit­ting next to a party of ve­gans.

Slightly baf­fled, I said that was per­fectly fine, as long as the ve­gans weren’t any trou­ble (her query seemed darkly to sug­gest oth­er­wise).

And, at the risk of gen­er­al­is­ing about ve­gans, they’re prob­a­bly very civil neigh­bours in a pub­lic din­ing en­vi­ron­ment, as in­deed they proved to be.

I don’t how William Sitwell will fare next time he ends up near a party of ve­gans in a res­tau­rant but I’m sure they’ll be much nicer in per­son than some of the more mil­i­tant ones he faced on so­cial me­dia.

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