Vegan ‘joke’ is no laughing matter

Zoe Williams misses the point (The mockery of vegans is not a sackable offence, 31 October). The affair is not about offending vegans or an ethical belief that is protected by law. It is about people in positions of power using language that can incite to violence and lead to hate crime. It is not much different from Trump’s misogynistic and xenophobic pronouncements. I wonder whether she would still take the same position had Sitwell made a joke about gays, disabled, black people, etc? The only difference is that vegans have been fair game for much too long. But if we allow this to pass, next time it will be another group. Complicity in silence.
Vesna Main
London

While agreeing that Mr Sitwell’s jokey suggestions for vegans were not really all that amusing (Editor quits Waitrose Food magazine after jibes at vegans, 1 November), I can see where he was coming from, as they say. What I would suggest that every committed vegan, and even vegetarian, should take a course in soil biology and then go on to spend two or three years on a farm in order to grow cereals and vegetables and fruit. This should be done without artificial fertilisers out of deference to the environment of course. In the absence of any animal manure, the only soil improver would presumably be vegetable matter and human waste.

Meanwhile of course the farmers and gardeners would abjure from soya in all its forms, knowing as they will what devastation its production causes to tropical forests. When the first vegans set this up in practical form (or maybe they already have?), I shall be out there saluting.
Penelope Reid
Sparsholt Down, Hampshire

Some people think that because William Sitwell made his unfortunate comments just about vegans, and did not make any racist, sexist or anti-religious comments, his views were not serious enough for condemnation. It is true that vegans do not fall into any of the categories which are protected by the law in the same way that the groups above are. But neither are journalists.

If someone had asked a journalist privately, in a really jokey way of course, and with no intention of offending them, how they and their fellow journalists could be killed “one by one”, I am pretty sure that the Saudis would see the funny side of it even if nobody else did. These are dangerous days when jokes have to be considered before they are made. I am not a vegan.
Angela Bogle
Bakewell, Derbyshire

I note that the Old Etonian editor of the Waitrose Food magazine has left his position after an unfortunate exchange about veganism. He appears to be in a tradition of sorts. Another Old Etonian, George Orwell, was famously scathing about non-meat-eaters too, calling them “sandal wearers and bearded fruit juice drinkers”.
Keith Flett
London

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