UK

Vivienne Westwood 'Eat Less' Row Gets Even More Awkward

13/11/2014 12:48 GMT | Updated 13/11/2014 16:59 GMT

Vivienne Westwood has denied to the Huffington Post UK that she told poor people who can't afford organic food to "eat less," even though a radio recording appears to contradict her.

The millionaire fashion designer appears to be backtracking on comments made yesterday during a discussion on genetically modified food.

vivienne westwood

Dame Westwood made the comments as she delivered a letter to Downing Street said to be signed by millions of people worried about the quality of their food.

When a BBC Radio 5 Live interviewer pointed out to the catwalk icon that "not everybody can afford to eat organic food," she replied: "Eat less!"

But in a statement sent to the Huffington Post UK, Dame Westwood argued that her comment was taken out of context.

"My comments were related to eating less meat. People are eating far too much factory farmed meat and junk food which is bad for you and not providing the nutrients you need. You can source good food and farmed meat for less money."

But - as the BBC reporter asking the questions, Dino Sofos, pointed out to HuffPost UK - her statement doesn't quite reflect what was caught on the recording.

Although Dame Westwood does mention the health consequences of meat later in the recording, it does not appear to be clear that her "eat less" comment was in reference to the same issue.

And the designer wasn't able to give a clear answer when the reporter continued to explain that many in the UK are forced to visit food banks so eating less isn’t exactly an option.

"They don’t have any choice – this is the point, isn’t it," she said.

In a separate statement released today, Dame Westwood said: “I’m deeply upset if anyone would think I don’t care about starving people or don’t understand the terrible situation some people are in, quite the opposite, I have spent years campaigning for social and human rights issues."

Yesterday, discussing the ethics of food and whether or not starving nations should be allowed to grow GM crops, Westwood encouraged her fans to follow the advice of controversial comedian-turned-political commentator Russell Brand saying "he’s got a rule of thumb."

"If the government says its good, then you know it’s not. Most people agree with this. They know what the government are up to. Everything they say is rubbish, everything they do is dangerous," she said in the interview, for 5 Live’s Afternoon Edition.

“The big companies, agri-business, are absolutely destroying the Earth… the ground is turning to sand. We know very well that the most efficient way of feeding the world is through ‘what’s good for the planet is good for people’”.

"You’ve got all these processed foods, which is the main reason people are getting fat," she points out later. "They’re not actually good for you - they don’t give you strength, they give you weight.

"I eat vegetables and fruit. I don’t eat meat. I believe meat is bad for me so I don’t eat it. It’s also bad for the animals.

"If there was a movement to produce more organic food and less of the horrible food, then organic food would obviously be a good value price, wouldn’t it?"

Listen to the full interview here:

Dame Westwood has previously said that being a vegetarian can cure the disabled.

Discussing the health benefits of choosing a veggie lifestyle, the fashion designer, 72, said people in wheelchairs have recovered due to a meat-free diet.

She also argued she living proof of the apparently miracle diet, claiming that it healed rheumatism in her finger.

“There are certain clinics where it is really strict vegetarian and there are people who have been in wheelchairs who have recovered from this diet," she said.

“It does cure all kinds of things if you have a vegetarian diet,” she added. “I used to have rheumatism — and I have a crocked finger.

“But now I don’t have any rheumatic pain any more.”

However, a number of disability groups were not left overly impressed by her claims.

A spokesperson for spinal injury charity Aspire said the comments had “a total lack of medical evidence”.

“These so-called cures create false hope in the immediate aftermath of a life-changing injury and can cause significant harm,” they added.