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First off, I and many of the people in my life aren't going to turn vegetarian in a day or so, but I think gradually it can be done for anyone.

Look, I know animals are being treated cruelly etc, but I suppose some animals have a far greater environmental impact than others. And global warming is what is worrying a great deal of the population at the moment. If you tell people which type of meat is 'best' to stick to for the time being, at least people could slowly adjust to becoming a vegetarian or even vegan. Also, I think somehow reducing the current greenhouse-gas emissions as quickly as possible is a little more important than morals at the moment. I'm trying to use as little resources and energy as I can for the time being, but I'm not going to convince anyone to turn their heating down or stop them driving around too much with their car. The entire concept of saving energy seems scary for many people, but they will listen when you talk about energy efficiency.

So please tell me which type of animal product uses the most energy and resources and write down a 'list' of animal products that have the most impact on the environment. Any link you can come up with would be good.

I think cows are probably pretty much the worst thing to have around (massive amounts of water and food needed, huge amounts of methane released into the atmosphere) compared to, for example, chicken. I've read that 1.6pounds of food yields about 1 pound of chicken meat, making it a very efficient (sorry, no other word to describe it) animal. This means that I'm currently advising my friends to rather stick to chicken than beef. I know this kind of advice will probably lead to more chickens being killed, but as I said, for the time being this will do.

Hmm, looking over this post I'll probably get flamed to bits, but maybe there's a few veggies here with different priorities (environment first, human & animal welfare second).

If you can help me with this initial step, I'll promise to make the 'conversion' happen for as many people as possible by appealing to their wallet first, then scare them with environmental facts and finally convince them because of the moral issues. Doing it the other way round (shock images first) just causes most people to block, imho.

It's the same with cars, really. Try to tell people to drive less and they won't react. Calculate the 'real price tag' for their car and they will start thinking: At least here in Europe driving a car is massively expensive if you look at it realistically (decay, petrol, taxes, insurance, repairs) and amounts to 320 Euros per month.

It's the same with operating systems. You can't just try and shove Linux down everybody's throat in one day. You have to gradually show them the benefits (financially, morally, etc) and let them pick up an interest by themselves and they'll usually convert (if they have the time

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But in my opinion, pork is about the worst.

Pigs take several pounds of feed to produce a single pound of meat. They can't graze; but as raised on farms they eat the same foods as humans could eat. Their waste takes serious lagooning to make it safe to return to the ecosystem, so runoff is a problem. They tear up the ground if let run outside, encouraging erosion and invasive species. And they are a source of human disease -- most season's flu strains have mutated to their current forms in Chinese pigs and been passed to the farmers, then around the world.

Cattle take huge resources to grow in confinement, but if they're grass-fed with high-intensity grazing management they can live happily and well off resources humans can't use and on ground that's not good for human agriculture (too steep to plow without undue erosion, for example.) It takes about eleven pounds of corn for a cow to gain a pound of meat.

Same for chickens - left to pasture they do nicely on plants and insects, but as raised in confinement they are highly polluting and use resources better used elsewhere. But, as you say, they are more efficient at converting corn to meat than are mammals.

I have no interest in ever eating meat again, but to people who won't quit eating meat, I would rather see them go fully grassfed beef and pastured (not just 'free-range' which means only they are _allowed_ outside) chicken. Animals that are hunted and fished without being stocked continuously are also a better ecological choice than other forms of meat.

I don't have links, as I teach biology at university for a living this is all pretty commonly understood. (Our agriculturalists have a strong 'sustainable agriculture' outreach program). One place to find a good treatment of it is the book Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollack.
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