Mocking Vegans Should Not Be A Sackable Offence

In a PC world where humour is subject to of suffocation and stifling, Brendan O'Neill argues that:

William Sitwell has been given the heave-ho over a private joke. That’s really bad. 

So we’re now hounding people out of their jobs over jokes they make in private? That’s the take-home message of the bizarre Waitrose Food scandal: that our uptight, humourless, speech-policing culture has become so entrenched that people can now be publicly shamed and given the heave-ho from their place of work for making an off-colour joke behind closed doors. What next: planting recording devices in pubs or at bus-stops to check if any citizens are cracking unwise gags and might need to be thrown on to the dole queue as punishment?

This is the story of William Sitwell, one-time Masterchef judge, all-round foodie and editor of Waitrose’s in-house food mag until he did something unspeakable in these fun-straitened times – made a joke about vegans.

Yes, confirming their reputation as not only meatless but joyless too (there could be a connection between those two things), vegans went for Sitwell’s jugular, metaphorically, natch, after it was revealed he made a not-so-wisecrack about bumping off members of their meat-phobic tribe. In response to an email from a freelance journalist proposing a series of articles on ‘plant-based meals’ – now that’s offensive – Sitwell said: ‘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?’

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Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show
And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy


  1. Mocking vegans should be grounds for immediate promotion!

  2. Wow well done TPQ to get Brendan on the site.

    I like Jimmy Carr’s suggestion for dinner party guests who want vegan/vegetarian options, the options he offers are ‘make do, or fuck off’ !

  3. DaithiD - it was after a bit of toing and froing with Spiked that they allowed us to carry it but not the full version.We ran a few parars and then put in a read more link. Brendan is a great writer - much that I would not agree with but he cuts through guff and PC with incisive clarity.

  4. Whereas I broadly come down on the side of free speech, and on occasion have in conversations been known to have taken pokes at the yoga and vegan fundamentalists in my circle of acquaintances, I'm also mindful that there's rarely, or if ever, neutral events; cause and effect are ignored at a cost.

    Like Will Sitwell in this case, George Hook and the unfortunates at Charlie Hebdo also come to mind.

  5. AM, interesting qualification, is there any writer you are in complete agreement with on everything ? I think it’s a sign of modern shell shock from a society that sues over jokes about vegans, I do it myself too. In so far as global warming is true, I’m all for it, it should help focus the mind away from the trivial.

  6. DaithiD - I guess not. We can get something from everybody but not pure DNA ideational replication!

  7. Henry Joy,

    there is always a cost to free speech.

    That cost needs to be considered in terms of self-caution not self-censorship.

    It is my right to carry the tricolour past the pubs on the Shankill Road in July.

    It would not be right for me to exercise that right.

    It would be criminally negligent of me to bring my family alongside me as moral support during the exercising of that right.

    Free speech is immediately limited by venue.

    An atheist has no right to walk into a church wedding or baptism and vent her spleen against those believing in god.

    I don't value free speech in some libertarian sense but as vital to the forming of opinion.

    Over the years I have come to identify more with freedom of inquiry than freedom of expression, the emphasis on cerebral freedom rather than verbal freedom. I have no interest in platforming those who want to shout "nigger." I have every interest in platforming those who say they have a certain view of black people based on this research or that finding - even where the conclusion is one that I am diametrically opposed to.

    When somebody says "fuck the Muslims", my attitude is fuck those who say it.

    If DaithiD says there is research that shows this, that or the other about Muslims, my position is that it needs to be discussed not suppressed.

    Free speech is a bit like the rapist and the thong. The wearer of the thong is not responsible for the rape - the rapist is. The speaker who said "Charlie Hebdo" - they are not responsible for the murders in Paris: the theocrats are.

  8. AM,

    useful & prudent distinctions.
    Thank you.

  9. Maybe vegans have a point and it's all in their bones....

    New 'human ancestor' discovered: 3.6 million-year-old skeleton of Little Foot shows she was first to have longer legs than arms, grew to just 4ft tall and was vegan

    A slew of ground-breaking research has found that a controversial skeleton may belong to a new species of ancient human.

    'Little Foot', a hominin which lived 3.67 million years ago, was an entirely different species than anything we have ever seen before, according to scientists.
    Four scientific papers, which are yet to be peer-reviewed or published, claim the skeleton of an elderly female with a crippled left arm proves she does not belong to any known category.

    She was also discovered to have legs longer than her arms, a trait associated with the evolution of modern man as it favours bipedalism - walking on two legs.

    Other studies on the remains have found she had an exclusively plant-based diet and stood at just over four foot tall (130 cm).

    The proposed name of the species is Australopithecus prometheu