Mary Robinson comes under fire in Brussels over her vegetarian agenda
A food fight broke out this week over former President Mary Robinson's calls for developed nations to go vegetarian to help fight climate change.
Her comments sparked a backlash from the Irish Farmers' Association, which said her suggestion ignored the reality that meat consumption was on the rise in developing nations.
Environment minister Denis Naughten, who was in Brussels on Friday for an emergency meeting on the recent Paris climate agreement, said her idea was "unrealistic".
"I think it is unrealistic to ask the world to go vegan and vegetarian, and I think, you know, we need to appreciate that people need to have a balanced diet, and meat is part of that balanced diet," Mr Naughten told the Irish Independent in Brussels.
Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay, the US and Brazil are the world's largest meat consuming countries, according to the OECD, while the EU comes in 14th place.
The OECD expects meat consumption to keep rising between now and 2025, though it says consumption growth will be slower in developed countries than it will be in developing nations.
Agriculture accounts for around 10pc pf the EU's carbon emissions, with fuel and transport emissions together making up the bulk, around 80pc.
"No other country in the world monitors, measures and manages carbon from farm to fork like Ireland does," said Thomas Cooney, the Irish Farmers' Association's (IFA) environment chairman.