A major report on land use and climate change says the West's high dietary reliance on meat and dairy produce is fuelling global warming.
But, according to the BBC, scientists and officials stopped short of explicitly calling on everyone to become vegan or vegetarian.
They said that more people could be fed using less land if individuals cut down on eating meat.
The document, prepared by 107 scientists for the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), says that if land is used more effectively, it can store more of the carbon emitted by humans.
It was finalised following discussions held in Geneva, Switzerland.
The report's results come at a particularly relevant time as Western Europe, in particular, experiences some of the highest temperatures ever recorded since records began. Between June and July 2019, Germany, France and Spain reached temperature heights of 41.5°C, 46°C and 47.3°C respectively.
"We're not telling people to stop eating meat. In some places, people have no other choice. But it's obvious that in the West we're eating far too much," said Prof Pete Smith, an environmental scientist from Aberdeen University, UK.
Climate change poses a threat to the security of our food supply by way of rising temperatures, increased rain and extreme weather events.
Livestock rearing contributes to global warming through the methane gas the animals produce, but also via deforestation to expand pastures, for example.
The environmental impact of meat production is an important aspect for many vegetarians and vegans, the number of which has risen significantly in recent years.
As a result, plant-based options of meat-associated dishes, such as burgers, have been made readily available by vegan corporations.
Plant-based meat substitutes said to taste like the real thing have been cropping up at food festivals and restaurants worldwide. The ingredient used to purport the taste of meat an iron-rich compound called heme.
Peter Stevenson, from Compassion in World Farming, said: "A reduction in meat consumption is essential if we are to meet climate targets."
According to scientists, the way humans can aid the daunting challenge of climate retrieval is by:
- Protecting natural forest, particularly in the tropics
- Eating less red meat and more vegetables
- Safeguarding and restoring peatlands
- Encouraging "agroforestry", where food crops are mixed in with trees
- Improving crop varieties
Main image by @deliciouslyella
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This article originally appeared on Irish Tatler.