Secret plans to encourage the nation to give up eating meat are being examined by the Government.
A leaked e-mail expresses sympathy for the environmental benefits of a mass switch to a vegan diet - a strict form of vegetarianism which bans milk, dairy products and fish.
The change would need to be done "gently" because of a "risk of alienating the public", according to the document.
The extreme policy is being examined on the basis it could make a major contribution to slowing climate change.
Farm animals are blamed for producing huge amounts of the greenhouse gases methane and carbon dioxide.
However, the National Farmers' Union has ridiculed the idea as "simplistic".
The e-mail, sent to a vegetarian campaign group, comes from an official at the Environment Agency, a Government advisory body.
It states: "The potential benefit of a vegan diet in terms of climate impact could be very significant."
However, it does recognise that it would be very difficult to win public support for such a move.
Consequently, it says the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is looking to encourage a gradual change that would be more palatable to the general public.
The e-mail states: "It will be a case of introducing this gently as there is a risk of alienating the public majority."
The official goes on to say it is "unlikely" that the Environment Agency would ever suggest adopting a fully vegan lifestyle.
But the e-mail added: "Certainly encouraging people to examine their consumption of animal protein could be a key message."
The proposals are the latest in a raft of measures being promoted as helping to slow climate change.
Others include putting windmills on rooftops, driving electric cars and banning plastic bags.
The e-mail was sent to the campaigning vegetarian organisation Viva, which argues that it is more efficient to use land to grow crops for humans, rather than feeding them to farm animals and dairy cows.
Viva director Juliet Gellatley said: "I think it is extraordinary that a Government agency thinks becoming a vegetarian or vegan could have such a positive impact for the environment yet it is not prepared to stand up and argue the case.
"There is a growing awareness that our diet directly affects the world around us - and that vegetarians and vegans contribute far less to the destruction of the environment. For our planet's sake there is an urgent need to move away from a meat and dairy-obsessed Western diet."
NFU communications chief Anthony Gibson rejected these claims as "simplistic and flawed".
"This is not a black and white issue," he said.
"You have to look at how these crops are produced in terms of the energy used for growing and transport."
I've always questioned vegetarian practices because of the lack of logic in its reasoning. I did respect who ever chose to practice however. I heard of a plan being in the works for this in I believe the UN's Agenda 21. Hopefully more to come on this issue.
how exactly would killing less animals lower greenhouse gas emissions?
Cows produce more methane than cars, do you have any idea how many cows are on the planet? I don't either but its in the 100 million range probably, a cow fart makes a human fart seem like single bubble wrap bubble popped.
Maybe this is why the burned 200,000 cows in the UK?
This also pushed up the price of Milk by 20p
No matter what happens the Government will make money from it.