DUP's Sammy Wilson says scientists' veggie diet plan takes 'all the joy out of life'
A DUP MP has slammed an expert report that said a massive shift from meat to vegetable consumption is needed to protect the wellbeing of future generations and the planet.
Sammy Wilson said the guidelines would remove "all the joy from existence".
The report calls for people to eat only a maximum of 14g red meat per day, one and a half eggs per week, and take a large reduction in consumption of potatoes.
It also suggests new taxes and charges as well as withdrawing products from sale, and - in some cases - rationing to make people do as they were told.
According to the EAT-Lancet Commission experts, moving to healthier, more sustainable eating habits around the world could prevent 11 million premature deaths per year by 2050.
It would also reduce the damaging effects of climate change, soil erosion, deforestation and loss of biodiversity, the scientists claimed.
Mr Wilson, who is MP for East Antrim, said: "The question which might need to be answered is whether eating a diet which allows you half a rasher of bacon a day and three eggs a fortnight actually helps you live longer, or whether it removes all the joy from existence so it just feels much longer.
"More fundamentally, however, this appears to be the latest attempt to restrict the choices people should be free to make about their own lives."
According to the MP, a shift from meat eating to vegetarianism would also devastate the Northern Ireland agricultural economy.
The Ulster Farmers' Union agreed, urging people to eat more local produce.
UFU deputy president David Brown said: "When you buy food that is 'grown not flown' not only are you helping the planet but you are keeping local farmers in business.
"Farmers are rightly proud of the high quality food they produce. And when it comes to red meat, consumers can be confident when they buy Northern Ireland Farm Quality Assured beef or lamb they are getting a product that meets some of the world's toughest animal welfare and environmental standards."
The influential Institute for Economic Affairs in London also criticised the diet plan.
IEA spokesman Christopher Snowdon accused the authors of campaigning for a "nanny state", adding: "Their desire to limit people to eating one tenth of a sausage a day leaves us in no doubt that we are dealing with fanatics. They say they want to save the planet - but it is not clear which planet are they on."