Eat meat and you heat the planet and ruin our future. At least that was the gist of the recent report to the United Nations.

The study by 107 scientists for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), claims the west’s high consumption of meat and dairy produce is fuelling global warming.

The document stated that if land is used more effectively, it can store more of the carbon emitted by humans.

It did not recommend that everyone should become vegan or vegetarian, but did say more people could be fed using less land if individuals cut down on eating meat.

The report is just the latest to point to farming as a major contributor to global warming.

Recent research published in the journal Science finding that beef produces 105kg of greenhouse gases per 100g of meat. By comparison, tofu results in less than 3.5kg.

Goldsmiths University in London just announced this week that it will ban beef from its campuses by September as part of a string of measures to reduce its carbon footprint and fulfil a pledge to become carbon neutral by 2025

Meanwhile Burger King is trialling a new plant-based alternative to its usual meat burgers in America.

The Impossible Whopper will be made with a type of soybean root which gives the impression of bleeding, like real meat.

The report to the UN panel have been given a lukewarm welcome in Cumbria.

Stephen Graham, of Miller Hill near Brampton, farms 500 beef cattle and more than 2,500 sheep.

After decades of being urged and encouraged to produce more and more, he thinks the farming industry has now become a scapegoat for global warming.

“Eating red meat was always the natural source of getting vitamins and proteins into your body,” he said.

“It seems as though it is now fashionable to be vegan. It has just snowballed somehow and we are all being told we should eat less red meat.

“But I read a report which said vegans have more days off through illness because they are not getting the right vitamins.

“We are becoming more and more of a target to be made fools of.

“If we were in France, there would be demonstrations and riots against it.”

Robert Craig and his wife Jackie operate three dairy farming businesses, in Ainstable and near Hexham in Northumberland.

They farm about 2,000 acres with almost 1,500 cows and operate a grass-based farming system grazing for 270 days of the year.

A Nuffield Scholar, Mr Craig has travelled extensively studying global food chain sustainability.

He is a director of First Milk, the member-owned dairy cooperative, and also a trustee of The Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers and The Angus McDonald Trust.

He says agriculture in the UK has made improvements in recent years to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases it produces and points out that in dairy farming, there has been a 24 per decrease in greenhouse gas emissions since 1990.

Mr Craig insists that in this country, we cause more problems with the food that we waste than the food we produce.

“It is not all hunky dory in the UK. Farming definitely has its part to play, but what frustrates me is is when the global figures are used to paint a gloomy picture,” he says.

“Some 60 per cent of all greenhouse gases attributed to food is from food that we waste. As soon as you put it in your compost bin it produces methane.”

Carlisle City Council Green councillor Dr Helen Davison is urging people to cut back on eating red meat.

She warned that to retain food security, make sure there is enough food to go round in the future and prevent global warming, we all need to move to a more plant-based diet.

“Even the best-reared beef is more carbon-intensive than if we raised crops or vegetables,” she cautioned.

“We should be growing vegetables, rather than raising crops that we then feed to animals and then eat the animals.

“If we look at the land around Carlisle, there is plenty of good growing land that could be used for crops and we could be more self-sufficient in food.”

Mr Craig reckons we would waste less if we valued our food more and paid more for it.

He said: “I think it is dreadful the way food is devalued and has to be perfect for us to buy it.

“If we could reduce our waste by half it would be a major step forward.

“There has been quite a kickback about farming being the demon in global warming, but it is well down the order for producing greenhouses gases.

“Every single airport I go to is growing really quickly. Air freight is due to double over the next 20 years and you never hear anything of that in the argument.”

Mr Graham argued that animals reared in the UK are less intensively-reared and less damaging to the global climate than those in other countries.

He added: “In the north of England, our beef and lamb is produced on grass and cereal. It is natural and environmentally-friendly.

“Meat from abroad might taste the same when it is cooked, but the more food miles involved, the fewer vitamins it will have and the less good it is for the planet.”

The farmer also argued that in many areas of Cumbria, animals are reared because the land is too poor to grow crops.

“We are in a high rainfall area and can have to grow crops we can harvest in the rain, such as grass silage.

“We are very limited in what we can grow.”

Mr Craig pointed out that Lakeland lamb feeds on land that can’t be used to grow anything other than grass offered sustainable food production with minimal climate change impact.

And he urged shoppers to play their part, adding: “Try and source local produce rather than cheaper meat from far away.

“Consumers need to learn a bit more about how it is produced and where it comes from.

“If it is grass-fed the grass is carbon neutral.”

While she is not vegetarian, Dr Davison said she is eating less meat, especially beef: “The less I eat meat, the less I want it.

“It is a question of weaning ourselves off things that are damaging the planet.

“It is also healthier for ourselves to eat less red meat.

“We need to make some major life changes but we are not asking people to say no to meat, just to make some changes.

“Eat less meat, but good quality, organic meat once in a while.”