A high-level report commissioned by the United Nations has said that plant-based diets may mitigate the impacts of climate change. The report also includes a policy recommendation to reduce meat consumption.

According to a report in Nature.com, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said a plant-based diet would be beneficial, for both climate and human wealth.

But the panel doesn’t want to sound like it’s policing what one should eat and what one shouldn’t since this is a contentious issue across the world.

“We don’t want to tell people what to eat,” said Hans-Otto Pörtner, an ecologist who co-chairs the IPCC’s working group.

How does eating meat harm the environment?

According to Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), when land is used to raise animals instead of crops, water and soil are lost; trees are cut down; animal waste pollutes rivers and streams.

Cows consume 16 pounds of vegetation to convert it into a pound of flesh.

A pig factory generates the same amount of raw waste as 12,000 people produce.

So, is turning into a vegetarian the solution? No, that’s the caveat.

According to scientists, there’s no one size fits all solution to this two-pronged problem of climate and diet. The low- and middle-income countries should not cut down on proper nutrition.

The onus should be on wealthy countries to regulate meat consumption, while poor countries will have to devise other ways to fight climate change.

According to a BBC report, in 2013, the most recent year available, the US and Australia topped the tables for annual meat consumption.

High levels of meat consumption can be seen across the West, with most countries in Western Europe consuming between 80 and 90 kilograms of meat per person.

The consumption of meat has a direct link to wealth. But India is an exception.

While average incomes have tripled since 1990, meat consumption hasn’t increased, say reports. But India is not a vegetarian-majority country either. Two-thirds of Indians do eat at least some meat. But the amount of meat consumed in India has remained small.