SO horrified with what she experienced while filming for a BBC documentary, presenter Liz Bonnin said she had been put off eating red meat for life.

The presenter visited farms in Brazil and America for the show, entitled Meat: A Threat to Our Planet?, and watched in horror as 50,000 cows on Texan farms released high volumes of methane gas and parts of the Amazon rainforest were destroyed to make way for mass meat production.

But the documentary has faced the backlash of UK beef farmers since it aired on November 25, claiming it was a misleading portrayal of the UK meat industry.

Haydon Bridge farmer Thomas Stephenson, who owns WMH Farm Meats butchers in the village, accused the BBC of filming the documentary to aid an agenda of reducing the number of people eating red meat.

He said: “It was all about America so I don’t know why the BBC even did it. Most people I know just ignore these documentaries now because they are sick to death of them jumping on the bandwagon.

“I watched it and it was misleading because it was tailored against beef, and there wasn’t even a debate so was just one-sided. All the figures I have seen suggest red meat amounts to around eight per cent of the harm done to the planet, compared to 50 per cent through travel and traffic etc, so it has been blown out of proportion.”

The documentary resulted in Chris Mallon, the national director of the National Beef Association, which has its headquarters in Hexham, writing a letter of complaint to Charlotte Moore and Tom McDonald, who commissioned the documentary.

Mr Mallon claimed the programme did not make it clear that the procedures highlighted in the show were very different to what people could expect to occur on British farms.

He said: “The National Beef Association is bitterly disappointed by the BBC’s failure to acknowledge that the beef production systems shown in the documentary are vastly different to those in the UK, which is primarily a grass-based system, with an average herd size of 135 cattle.

“We take issue with this, as this point was not made clear in any way to viewers, whose agricultural knowledge is not the same as those working in the industry.”

In a meeting with 40 university delegates held after the documentary, National Farming Union president Minette Batters said that British farming could actually play an important role in tackling the climate crisis.

She said: “The world is crying out for a leader in sustainable food production and British farmers are ready to take this opportunity.

“We are already producing some of the most climate-friendly beef and lamb in the world, with our beef production currently 2.5 times more efficient than the global average.

“What’s more, our farmers are working towards net zero across the whole of British agriculture.”

Fitness fanatic Andy Clark (36) organises the Tyne Trail Ultra runs predominantly in Tynedale and has been vegan for three years.

Once a lover of meat, he said the decision was made largely to improve his fitness levels but also to reduce the impact his meat consumption was having on the planet.

He said: “I have two daughters and I can’t think of any greater gift than to live my life with regards for all life and with consideration for the future of our planet.

“I’m a firm believer that we all have an obligation to leave this world in a better state than when we entered it.”

A BBC spokesperson said: "The film wasn’t an investigation into UK meat farming but highlights what global meat production is doing to the environment; from climate change to water pollution and biodiversity collapse.

"It largely focused on farming practices in the Americas, because in the USA people eat more meat than anywhere else on the planet, and Brazil is the world’s biggest exporter of beef.

"The film also makes it clear that some farmers around the world farm livestock in a more sustainable way."