Eating meat could be banned like smoking, one of Britain's leading barristers has predicted, as he called for the offence of "eco-cide" to be introduced to prosecute those who damage nature on a massive scale.
Michael Mansfield QC said that the farming of livestock for meat was destroying the planet and called for legislation to criminalise those who caused global warming and the wilful destruction of wildlife.
In a message delivered at the launch of the Vegan Now campaign, which encourages people to stop eating meat and dairy products, Mr Mansfield said "eco-cide" must be made a crime.
"I think when we look at the damage eating meat is doing to the planet, it is not preposterous to think that one day it will become illegal," he said.
"There are plenty of things that were once commonplace that are now illegal, such as smoking inside.
"We know that the top 3,000 companies in the world are responsible for more than £1.5trn (€1.7trn) worth of damage to the environment with meat and dairy production high on the list.
"It is time for a new law on eco-cide to go alongside genocide and the other crimes against humanity."
Mr Mansfield made his comments before a debate on how veganism can help protect the planet, at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton.
The world's top three meat producers are responsible for more greenhouse gases each year than all of France.
Around 25pc of all greenhouse gases come from agriculture, with livestock farming contributing to 80pc of the total.
Juliet Gellatley, director of Viva!, a pro-vegan charity, said: "Thirty years ago, people didn't bat an eyelid if you lit a cigarette in a pub or restaurant.
"But now society accepts smoking is harmful and totally unnecessary and so we legislated against it. The same could happen with eating meat. It's high time we kicked meat and dairy into touch and went vegan now."