Vegan Hit Girlfriend with Bottle Because She Came Home Smelling of Bacon

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Brian Ach/Getty Images for New York Magazine

A “reclusive” vegan who beat his girlfriend with a glass vinegar bottle because she “smelled of bacon” has been sentenced to a community order after pleading guilty to assault.

Christopher Ellam, 22, pleaded guilty at Kirklees Magistrates’ Court to two counts of criminal damage, sending indecent or grossly-offensive messages, and assault by beating of his girlfriend of four years, Bethany Smith, 23.

Miss Smith had told the court that she and Mr Ellam had started out as friends before becoming romantically involved in 2015. At the time, Mr Ellam was neither a vegetarian nor a vegan. Eventually, the couple moved in together in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.

During the relationship, Mr Ellam then became a fanatical vegan — eschewing all animal products — with Miss Smith telling the court her then-boyfriend pressured her into becoming a vegan, as well, according to comments reported in the MailOnline on Sunday.

“He became completely set on the idea. He told me bluntly: ‘If you’re not going vegan, I’ll break up with you,'” she said.

The domestic abuse survivor described a controlling and destructive relationship, where Mr Ellam cut up his then-girlfriend’s clothes, and harshly criticised her for eating one cheese and onion crisp, with cheese being forbidden in veganism.

Miss Smith described her ex-boyfriend as “reclusive”, and said that “he barely left the flat”, meaning that the couple were dependent on the money the young woman earnt working at her step-father’s cafe in nearby Halifax.

Smith told the court: “During the week I helped out by waitressing, doing the washing up, working the till and serving customers. I enjoyed the job, interacting with people, and it gave me some time away from Christopher.

‘But when I got home from a shift one evening, Christopher was raging. He snapped and told me I ‘smelt of meat’.

“I assured him it was because I’d been in the cafe around food all day, but he launched into a nasty tirade.

“He pulled me by my hair into the bathroom and forced me to have a shower. He called me a ‘fat, disgusting b****.'”

The next morning, when Miss Smith had to go back to work, Mr Ellam cut up her dress, and then “grabbed the glass bottle of vinegar off the side and whacked me around the side of the head with it. He punched and kicked me in a vicious attack. I dropped to the floor and curled up in a ball with a cushion covering my face to try and shield it, but it didn’t stop Christopher pummelling down blows.”

Miss Smith then went to her mother’s house and reported the incident to the police.

During the trial, Mr Ellam’s defence claimed that his client suffered from mental health problems and was bullied at school.

“I never wanted to be a vegan or even vegetarian, but he made me feel like I had to be. After he attacked me for smelling of bacon — when I’d been helping in my stepdad’s cafe — I knew enough was enough. I’m just relieved he’s out of my life,” Smith said.

Magistrates sentenced Mr Ellam to just 200 hours of community service and aa total of 43 days of rehabilitation, as well as a two-year restraining order. He was also ordered to pay his victim £500, the court costs of £85, and another £85 victim surcharge.

Veganism is on the rise in the UK, with activists calling for more extreme protections of what they claim is a belief system akin to a religion. In February, the Vegan Society called on employers to shield vegans from jokes about their dietary choices and that vegans should be given the top shelf of workplace kitchens’ refrigerators to keep their food. The guidance note coming out after an employment tribunal judge declared the month before that ethical veganism is a “philosophical belief”.

The tribunal had involved an ‘ethical vegan’ who alleged that he was fired from his job at an animal rights charity because of his philosophical beliefs. In March, the court ruled in favour of vegan Jordi Casamitjana. The ethical vegan said of the verdict: “The case has established that ethical vegans are protected from discrimination, and I have received the acknowledgement I sought that my dismissal was based on my ethical veganism, and was not justified or justifiable.”

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