The environment minister, Jairam Ramesh, said if the world abandoned beef consumption, emissions would be dramatically reduced and global warming would slow down.
"The solution to cut emissions is to stop eating beef. It leads to emission of methane which is 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide," he said.
"The best thing for us, India, is we are not a beef-eating nation.
The United States, the world's largest emitter along with China, is also the world's greatest beef-eating nation and consumes 25 per cent more than Europe.
His comments follow a call last month by Lord Stern, the author of a British Government study on climate change, for people to give up eating meay to reduce emissions. "Meat is a wasteful use of water and creates a lot of greenhouse gases," said Lord Stern. "It puts enormous pressure on the world's resources. A vegetarian diet is better."
Hindus are forbidden to eat beef and India has more vegetarians than any other country in the world. More than 30 per cent of its 1.1 billion people do not eat meat at all.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, livestock is responsible for 18 per cent of the the Earth's greenhouse gas emissions. Cows produce harmful methane gas and environmentalists argue beef production causes greater damage than any other farming because it requires far more land and water than for any other form of animal husbandry.