It began slowly. “Selene Nelson is a vile disgusting bitch,” the first tweet read, “she deserves a disease.” The next, a few minutes later, was even worse: “I hope this self-righteous, vindictive bitch never appears on a byline again,” it went. “Lonely miserable (here there was a four-letter-word) with no substance in her life.” For a few days the abuse came in thick and fast, as did the media requests – Good Morning Britain, LBC, The Daily Mail and many foreign publications too, from New Zealand and Australia to the US.
In between scrolling through meat gifs people presumably thought would offend me and sighing at the tabloid media’s attempts to smear me, I was genuinely bemused at the level of vitriol being bandied around. Bemused, yet not surprised, because we all know what Twitter is like – and as a vegan, I’m well aware how angry my way of living can make people. After a while, the abuse simply became boring, so I turned my phone to aeroplane mode, switched off my social media notifications, declined all comment requests and tried to get on with my work.
What was at the heart of this social media storm? I had revealed an email I was sent from William Sitwell, the then editor of Waitrose Food, after I pitched a series on plant-based cooking. Sitwell’s reply suggested a series on “killing vegans, one by one. Ways to trap them? How to interrogate them properly? Expose their hypocrisy? Force-feed them meat.” He has since said he meant the email to be “in some ways affectionate”, but that wasn’t how I read it.
Read the full article over on BBC News.