By Mike Pomranz
Updated July 11, 2016
Credit: © ladi59/Getty Images

Arguments between vegans and omnivores can get pretty heated. But as a chef in England learned the hard way, when you work in the food service industry, though the validity of different diets may be up for debate, messing with someone’s dietary restriction – or even joking about it – is a definite no-no.

Alex Lambert, the now ex-head chef at the Littleover Lodge Hotel in Derby, claimed his comment was just an attempt at “pissing her off,” when he responded to a “militant vegan” on Instagram by posting, “my personal favourite is feeding vegans animal products and them not knowing.” But hell hath no fury like a vegan scorned and, joke or not, the self-described “stupid” response cost the chef his job.

After the social media war of words went viral, vegans around the world were calling for Lambert’s head. According to the Telegraph, though management at the Littleover initially believed their chef had been writing “in a heated moment” and the meat-sneaking “practice has never taken place,” eventually the negative response became too great, and they axed the 30-year-old chef.

“We have investigated all accusations against Mr Lambert and found no evidence suggesting that any of these practices have taken place within this hotel,” the Littleover was quoted as saying. “However, due to the comments made by Mr Lambert regarding specific dietary requirements the company has decided to terminate his employment which has been done forthwith.”

In his defense, Lambert reportedly said, “It was a stupid comment made to a vegan during an argument online.” Lambert also later insisted, joking aside, he had never actually fed a vegan meat. “I have been a chef for nine years,” he claims. “I have never in this time done anything like feeding a vegan animal products or slipped in contaminated food.” At the very least, it sounds like he is probably better at being a chef than at handling his social media presence.

Overall, unless you’ve slipped $20 cash into a hamburger, it’s probably best for chefs to stay away from talking about tampering with customers’ food regardless of the circumstances.