SO-called secret plans to encourage the nation to give up eating meat have whipped up a rage in Bridgwater and West Somerset MP Ian Liddell-Grainger.

According to a national newspaper report last week, a leaked email from an official at the Environment Agency to a veggie campaign group refers to the environmental benefits of a mass switch to a vegan diet.

"Can you imagine what that would do to all our local food producers and farmers?", said Mr Liddell-Grainger.

"I don't expect it would ever happen, but that's not the point. A Big Brother ban on meat would mean the slaughter of livestock, killing chickens - people wouldn't even be able to go fishing.

"It is an utterly absurd idea but the worrying thing is that, apparently, this is being looked at by the Government. I just hope it is being looked at by someone realistic and sensible."

The email stated the potential benefit of a vegan diet in terms of climate impact could be "very significant."

Defra is now looking to encourage a gradual change that would be more palatable to the general public.

However, it adds it is "unlikely" that the Environment Agency would ever suggest adopting a fully vegan lifestyle.

Mr Liddell-Grainger said he was seeking an immediate meeting with the Environment Agency and had written to the Minister asking for a copy of the email and an indication as to what the Government thinks.

"I must assure our farmers, food producers and, for that matter, meat eaters in the constituency that I, along with other MPs, will fight the corner for the countryside.

"The effect of the ridiculous suggestion in this email would be utter disaster."