In Brief

NatWest worker says ‘vegans should be punched in the face’

Woman who applied for a loan stunned by response from irate employee

A vegan woman who applied to NatWest for a loan has received an apology after a bank employee told her “all vegans should be punched in the face”.

The customer, a Bristol woman who did not want to be named, told the BBC she contacted the bank by phone on 23 January to request a £400 loan to pursue a nutrition diploma.

After she mentioned her vegan lifestyle, the conversation took a turn, which she described as “really uncomfortable”.

The employee launched into a diatribe against vegans, accusing activists of “forcing their beliefs on to him” by chalking pro-veganism slogans on pavements near his house, and suggesting that “all vegans should be punched in the face”.

“He wasn't happy to be speaking to me at all, his tone was really unpleasant,” she told BBC Radio Bristol.

To add insult to injury, her loan application was declined.

In a statement, NatWest said it was “extremely sorry” for the customer’s experience.

“These comments were wholly inappropriate and we have commenced disciplinary proceedings,” it said.

“We have also provided feedback to the relevant sections of the bank to ensure that lessons are learnt so that a situation like this never happens again.”

As a gesture of apology, the bank said it will fund the woman’s nutrition qualification, and also offered her compensation of just under £200, the BBC reports.

At least half a million Britons identify as vegan, according to 2016 figures by the Vegan Society.

In October last year, the editor of Waitrose magazine was forced to step down after he responded to a food writer’s pitch for an article on veganism by suggesting “a series on killing vegans, one by one”.

William Sitwell also joked about force-feeding vegans meat and ways to “make them eat steak and drink red wine” in the emails, which went viral after being shared online by journalist Selene Nelson.

Speaking to HuffPost in response to the story, one British vegan said that, despite the increasing visibility of the lifestyle in recent years, “abuse from non-vegans is just a constant thing”. 

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