Food & Drink

William Sitwell was victim of ‘political correctness gone mad’, says vegan ex-employee

A vegan former PA to William Sitwell has told South West Londoner: “Not once did I feel like William was going to kill me.”

Amy Gastman, 24, worked for the Waitrose & Partners Food magazine for three and a half years and was an editorial assistant as well as Mr Sitwell’s PA.

Mr Sitwell’s resignation as editor followed backlash from comments that he made in reply to Selene Nelson, a vegan freelance journalist, who pitched a plant-based meal series via email, in which he suggested killing vegans one by one.

Miss Gastman said: “Everyone in the food industry knows William and his sense of humour.”

She added: “He is entirely a victim of political correctness gone mad.”

Miss Gastman described her diet as 90% plant based, but she said she is not a strict vegan as she wears leather and occasionally eats non-vegan food products.

“There are a lot of factors behind the resignation,” Miss Gastman said.

“It was a stupid thing to say and he would probably agree he sometimes speaks before he thinks.”

She added: “But he was always very keen to promote veganism in the magazine, especially with me as his PA.”

Miss Gastman pointed out the history of the Waitrose magazine running vegan and vegetarian features, including an issue in January 2017 featuring no meat-based product advertisement, and the April 2018 issue reviewing exclusively vegetarian and vegan cookery books.

She also said that Mr Sitwell once suggested that she should go to Rome and write a first-person feature about her attempts to find a vegan croissant in the city.

Mr Sitwell shared statements regarding his resignation on his personal Instagram account, along with an apology and the cover image of the vegetarian issue from January 2017. In the post, Mr Sitwell described his comments as an ill-judged joke in a private email.

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