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Dave Warwak Interview

January 30, 2010

Dave Warwak

30 January 2010

 

Today we are speaking with Dave Warwak, author, artist, educator, social critic, activist, and public speaker.

Dave has traveled across the United States to deliver the truth about society’s unjust use of animals for food and to explain that our commodification of animals is unacceptable. This commodification requires animals to be regarded as mere property and leads to treatment which can only be inherently cruel. Yet our culture is unquestioning in its acceptance of this crime against earthlings, and Dave shows that there is a system of indoctrination in place that makes this possible.

Dave holds a Bachelor of Science in Education and a Master of Arts from Northern Illinois University.

He was a tenured middle school teacher and taught art. Dave was outspoken on veganism while a teacher and his belief that veganism holds the key to a good and decent world. But this non speciesist view was met with resistance, and Dave was infamously fired in September 2007 while at Fox River Grove Middle School. The reason? Teaching kindness and compassion through veganism to his students. The risks associated with taking a hardline against animal exploitation were always very real, but he refused to sit quiet with so much needless violence all around him and a class full of impressionable students eager to hear a message of change and peace.

Dave was particularly offended by the milk moustache posters hanging in the hallways, and of course the school cafeteria was the final destination for many tortured farm animals.
But while the school lunch menu featured meat, dairy, and egg, like all schools, Mr. Warwak was not inclined to acquiesce based on the ubiquity of these corpse products. And as if to reaffirm his “distaste” …
for animal products, in 2008 there was a major contamination incident: Hallmark-Westland Meat Packing Company recalled 143 million pounds of meat, some of which made its way to Fox River Grove Middle School in 2007.

Dave published his book “Peep Show for Children Only” (2008-), in which he chronicles his struggle to teach compassion to his middle school art students against the orders of the school principal.
Dave appealed his teaching suspension and the book documents the State of Illinois court proceedings dealing with him. Copies of this book were confiscated by police after Dave distributed it to former students.

Dave is now lecturing throughout the United States on the importance of teaching children veganism.
Dave has spoken at the US National Animal Rights Conference and at the Veggie Pride Parade in New York City in 2008 and 2009. Dave is also a very talented artist, whose artistic theme is now centered around animal activism and veganism.

Some activists confront vivisectors, others take on factory farming, some activists target McDonalds, and others put KFC in their sights, some activists confront Japanese whalers. Dave confronts corpse-munchers: mommy, daddy, junior, and especially the President of the United States.


ARZone: Welcome to ARZone Dave! You were condemned for speaking out about the school lunch program at Fox River Grove Middle School. You warned that the meat and dairy being consumed was dangerous but were ignored. However, a year later 143 million pounds of dead flesh, some of which had been distributed to your school, was recalled due to contamination. Other than saying ‘I told you so’, how do you react to people who ridiculed you in a way that vindicates your warning?

Dave Warwak:  Excellent question. The more they try to silence me, the louder I get. In this instance, I went to the newspapers, television and radio stations with my information. I phoned the Food Service Director for Illinois schools, Jim Copp and recorded the phone call and used this as part of my proof against the school. I also included the Hallmark Westland list of schools who received the recalled beef. I rely heavily on documentation knowing problems of vCJD will be difficult to prove without it some ten years later. All of the recalled meat at FRG MS was eaten and those children who attended school between 2006 and 2008 are at risk. I have been active in reminding people and getting in touch with those students. As far as my personal reaction to those who ridicule me, I often use their own words against them and certainly don’t take their ridicule personally, although it does seem to fuel my activism. They are only shining light on their deficiencies the more they lie, deny, and ridicule others.

Would you have advice for a young person, who is very thin naturally and is terrified to go vegan. Can you tell me, what high calorie vegan foods are there I can convince her with?


You have to sit down with her and watch Earthlings. Even though she is lean, a vegan diet provides all the calories she could ever want and more. Corpse-munchers who go vegan are like smokers who quit. Not only do flowers smell better but food tastes so much better. She might find she will eat more because vegan food tastes so yummy, healthy and real. Eating real whole vegan foods and less processed foods is more filling and costs less when you get down to it. Yes, many processed vegan foods are expensive but if you stick to real foods, you will be amazed, it is actually cheaper. Beans, lentils, legumes, all the veggies and all the fruits, grains, rice, pasta, potatoes the more one looks into a vegan diet, the more they find that they have been missing out drowning everything with corpses, blood, and moldy pus. Your daughter will not waste away as so many corpse-munchers would have her believe. “It is the position of the American Dietetic Association
that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are for individuals during all stages of the life-cycle including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and adolescence and for athletes.”

Hope that helps


In your opinion how long would it take for a pacifist to change the world and end the mass murder of animals, and how long would it take to achieve the same, if ALL of US acted NOW “by all means necessary?

Pacifists can still be confrontational without getting violent and be very effective. The key to change in our lifetime is not necessarily a question of pacifism vs. violence; but rather a question of who we target with our activism and of course a concerted effort on all our parts. Too many vegans keep to themselves and are not even activists of any nature. To answer your question how long will it take if we just go about this issue haphazardly without a real plan that we all agree on? The Earth is not waiting for our fumbling around in the dark. Violence is not the answer either. If we were all on the same page and honest with children by targeting them with our activism, the children would tell their friends and create the real revolution we need in a hurry leading to a vegan world in our lifetime. I believe December 2012 is the marker where we reach a critical mass of more love than hate in the world. Our efforts directed at animal welfare are simply a waste of time actually creating more harm than good by cooperating with the corpse-munching mindset we set our movement back tenfold.


You must feel a lot of anger towards industries such as the dairy and meat industry who abuse/exploit animals, possibly more than the average ARA due to the fact that you lost your livelihood for doing what you simply had to do and that was expose the truth; however you were scrutinized and treated like a terrorist for it. How do you deal with the anger if in fact you have any?

Great question! Yes I am angry. But I am angrier with society as a whole and corpse-munchers as individuals than I am at the death industries who are only supplying the demand. I meditate a lot to control my anger and vent by getting the word out in real language without sugar-coating things. This approach angers corpse-munchers which in turn makes me feel better by not letting them slide. Corpse-munchers don’t mind when we attack the death industries but are quick to cry foul when we mention their sick lifestyles as the problem and that makes me feel better. We must remain positive inside ourselves with meditation to be the best activist we can be.


I am serving on a committee for the Toronto Vegetarian Association. This committee is charged with planning and executing a post secondary school speaker series dealing with factory farming and the cruelty of consuming animal products at 3 Toronto universities. Put another way, the talks are designed to show students the moral reasons for choosing veganism.

Why do you prefer to target a younger crowd with the message when most, such as Vegan Outreach, look to the college crowd as an ideal audience?

Young children are like sponges just waiting to absorb their world. Ignoring young children until they are “old enough” is the problem. We can not change brainwashed corpse-munchers as fast as they are born. There is a corpse-muncher born every 10 seconds in the USA. We can’t change corpse-munchers at that rate. We are losing because vegan education does not take place in schools – institutionalized brainwashing centers.
Children still love animals and their hearts are still open – as are their minds. Children have a way of starting revolutions. Look at Rock and Roll and the Peace and Love generations and how they shaped history. We need to get the ball in the child arena. St. Francis Xavier says, “Give me the children until they are seven and anyone may have them afterwards” We learn most of our values in early life – good values are not taught in school and many times, not even by our parents – and then schools spend the rest of our lives filling our heads with useless information. Get them while they are young and you have them for life. Once again, great question.


I would like to ask how Mr. Warwak views the clear division between the Steve Best camp and the Gary Francione camp, and how this effects the animal rights community

Best is divisive for sure and does little to get corpse-munchers to go vegan and often preaches to his own choir hoping to work people-up into extreme acts of vandalism and such. Reports of such acts are often painted in a biased fashion by the meatia {sic}. That is expected, but in the end, vandalism does little good for in the end, until corpse-munchers go vegan, new death companies will emerge and those who stay will only rebuild newer and better killing machines with the insurance money. I guess in the end, these acts do create discussion, but little comes from distorted pictures.

I have never heard of a corpse-muncher who went vegan because a death industry was vandalized.

Francione does his share of preaching to the choir (nothing wrong with educating on a higher level – somebody has to teach the teachers) but I suspect he is out there getting people to go vegan as well as that is his message.

Best focuses on shutting down the death industries through vandalism and violence in general; while Francione focuses his message on vegans who he wants educating corpse-munchers in a creative but nonviolent way.I feel Best does more harm than good and creates rifts in the movement especially when personally attacking vegan abolitionists like Francione and myself; where as, Francione’s message of non-violent creative education is a sound one. My only real criticism of Francione is his message doesn’t stress reaching out to young children and public education enough. I especially like that Francione demonizes welfare – but then doesn’t demonize corpse-munchers like Obama who is the biggest offender in maintaining the corpse-munching rule/status quo/welfare state.

All of that said, Francione and Best are doing what they feel is right and both have many valid points. No need to follow one or the other to the letter, but they both have much to offer – some more than others.


Do you agree then that there is a clear division in AR between pro violence and non violence and do you not feel there is a place in AR for both sides, a unified AR is better than split

Yes

Now that you can no longer teach in a normal school environment do you have any regrets about exposing kids to the truth? I would certainly not hesitate to educate kids about how the “nice white milk” they drink (just one example) comes from exploited/suffering cows.

No regrets. I hope to teach again as society changes and is more accepting of vegans/truth, but there is no way I could remain silent with the balance of our world at stake. I am puzzled why more vegan teachers are not speaking up and pressing the issue when they discover veganism is something off-limits. I would do it all over the same in a heart beat.


As an animal activist I spend my time and energy trying to ensure that production animals are treated humanely, I do a lot of ground work in terms of attending salesyards, I attend one yard in particular which sells over 1.4 million sheep a year as well as enormous numbers of pigs and cattle.

I have been able to improve the welfare for these animals by exposing people such as live stock transporters and stock agents for handling animals very poorly at saleyards
In particular I ensure that stock agents do not sell animals which are unfit. It is very common for unfit sheep to be sent to saleyards and sold, many can barely walk due to their injuries and this is of course not acceptable as unfit stock must not be sold and transported that must be humanely put down.

Many people believe pushing for veganism is the only way to go in terms of encouraging others to not eat meat, while I agree with this approach I am also realistic and know that the farming of animals for meat shall go on regardless of how hard we push people to become vegan, which is why I work hard to push for welfare changes within the meat industry in Australia
My question to you is:

[this is where the story really starts!!]

Do you believe that many animal activists such as myself ensure production animals are treated humanely, are really only saying to the meat industry
OK it’s alright to kill animals for food but you must do it humanely” which is the approach I take, and do you believe that pushing for veganism will eventually put an end to the slaughtering of animals, or is it more beneficial to try and protect production animals from abuse knowing that they will be slaughtered with or without the likes of myself and the countless number of vegans and vegetarians out there who do not eat meat due animal abuse.
end of Q!


Wow! I understand you feel greatly for the animals and only want what’s best and if not, whatever you can do. That is to be admired for sure. Sadly, Welfare is a waste of precious time that is running out (or may have already) when we could be concentrating our efforts towards abolition. Maybe welfare would be a worthwhile pursuit if we had more vegans as activists; but the sad truth is, with so few Animal Rights activists, we need every single body on the right path. We only have so much time on this Earth and we need a plan of action that is thoughtful, effective and plausible. Ask yourself a question that I posed to Karen Dawn (which sent her over the edge at the AR Conference in LA): If you lived during slavery and then were to describe your legacy to your great grand-children, would you want to tell them that you fought for better living conditions for the slaves or that you fought for their freedom?

Probably not the answer you wanted but I have learned, never ask a question you don’t want the answer to.


What would be your advice to a person, who lost his/her patience and would like to see a change NOW!

We all have that question!  Consider coming out of your shell and getting active within schools. Join the PTO/PTA and work on getting vegan lunches. Volunteer to visit K-12 classrooms to pass out vegan foods and introduce animals to the children and talk of kindness/veganism and all the implications of our dying world – especially in urban schools where many never see an animal except in pictures, TV, zoos, and dead on their plates.

To this very day, I have never met a chicken.

Use all your talents and be creative (art, music, web sites, pod casts, videos, demonstrations, lectures at libraries and other, write a book …) to get the word out and don’t let anyone tell you to be quiet about things that matter.

One of the greatest things you can do would be for the animals who have their heads on chopping blocks, not by making their lives a little less hellish, but by freeing them. I have rescued animals before and can attest such actions are what it is all about at its core. Jesus’ last act was freeing animals at the desert slaughterhouse (that butcher-shop they call Temple/Church) and corpse-munchers murdered him. Want to do something real, free some animals—much like the under-ground railroad—you will make a difference to those who our fight is really about. Your actions are immediate for those who are in harms way. Hope that helps.


There are speciesists that fear our message of animal liberation (why this fear exists is beyond me!). They feel that approaching or leafleting to children is a “terrorist act” (idiots!). What are your thoughts on effective outreach to young people– outreach that specifically does not create tension (or worse) between child and parent?

Definitely work with the people in charge as much as you can by joining the PTO and working with parents, school administrators, and teachers; but when you see they are unwilling to discuss such matters, bypass them and tell the children in creative ways. I use small business cards (directing them to look-up “vegan” and “factory-farming”) and leave them in places children frequent. Consider making cool posters and stapling them along school routes children walk.

Would you avoid conflict or strife because drug addict parents objected to your efforts to get their children off of drugs? Certainly not. I feel to many of us worry about what dysfunctional sorts wish for us. I am sure you have seen the wrath I put out and I do offend many, but in person when I meet these same people, they are cool with me. Why? Because they know I am right and I smile when I talk with them. Smile and you can say whatever you want without much backlash. Hope that helps.


I absolutely agree that educating youngsters, toddlers and so on is the best way to go. I was fortunate enough to have worked with people aged 2 to 74 and the younger they are the easier it seems to communicate so called “difficult concepts” such as animal communication and spiritual healing and I had a chat with Dave where we both talked about how important positivity is. Toddlers are by nature OPEN and positive – just my two cents.

Yes. The younger we reach children the more likely we are not wasting time


How do you get around/respond to critics that say you shouldn’t “peddle” your personal beliefs in the school environment. I had someone say to me that was unethical and not in usual policy of schools. However, I know teachers do it all the time and..sometimes it annoys parents, especially when they indirectly criticise my daughter for not eating meat!


Those who criticize don’t know true education. English teachers always use books as subject matter to introduce new ideas and my subject, art encompasses all of life – not just color wheels and crayons


I just wanted to thank you Dave for your total honesty, I have had a very emotional day with the issue of animal torture, and you give me some hope. Vegan is vegan, and peace is part of that process!

Yes, peace is the goal, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be confrontational with the real criminals that create the demand

We will see a vegan world in our lifetime – it is happening before your very eyes – they can not stop us now – too many people know the truth


If you would like to listen to the 1-hour WILD TIME did with Dave pls go to:
http://www.wildtimeradio.blogspot.com and scroll down


Thank you all 🙂 ARZone rocks!

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ARZone exists to promote rational discussion about our relations with other animals and about issues within the animal advocacy movement. Please continue the debate after “chats” by starting a forum discussion or making a point under a transcript.

 


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