He says that when he first encountered the national single-issue groups, such as the National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) and the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) in the 1970s, most of their staff were flesh, dairy, and egg consumers, so there was no vegan campaigning going on in those days in the mainstream animal movement.
During the 1970s, he says, the concept of animal rights emerged and it became influential within the animal advocacy movement. Therefore, there came a time when most -sometimes all - of the staff members of many of the national groups were vegans as individuals.
Nevertheless, despite this, single-issue campaigning remained the order of the day, and there was still no focus on veganism: the idea that 21st century advocates are so familiar with (some even comfortable with) - that veganism should be the moral baseline of the movement, at the very least, the rights-based elements of it, was a long way into the future.
This historical perspective provided by Ronnie Lee shows us that consistent, sustained, vegan-focused campaigning is very new within the animal advocacy movement, and many people will know that I credit Gary Francione with being one of the main driving forces of the notion that veganism should be at the heart of all animal rights campaigning. Ronnie went vegan long before Francione did (1971 compared to 1982). Indeed, I was an ethical vegan before Francione was (1979/1982). In fact, Francione was still calling himself a vegetarian in some of his writing as late as 1996.
The fact remains, though, that the modern focus on veganism owes a lot to Gary Francione.
Much, much, more important than that, however, is to remember the historical fact that Ronnie Lee points out: vegan-based campaigning is NEW!
If anyone tries to tell you that vegan education has "gone on for many years and its not working," inform them that is simply not true and, to quote the cheesy Carpenters (also of the 1970s), we've only just begun.