The recent scandal in the UK where it was discovered animal fat was being used to produce money brings to mind a much deeper issue vegans face regularly: how do you know what's really in the products around you every day and what do you do if they're not vegan?
1. Do your research. Of course, knowledge is power. But sometimes it's not that easy. Does it mean that every single thing you come across in your life will make you run to Google to do a quick search? Say you're getting a ride to work with your friend who's got a new car. Are you going to do a quick internet search to find out if their car contains any animal ingredients before getting in? (Note that cars tires often contain animal-derived stearic acid to give them better grip.) Would you say no to the ride to work? It might not be possible if you want to keep your job. The solution? Research items that are most important to you and which make the biggest impact on your life, such as food, hygiene products, cosmetics, clothing, and so on. Focus on the big things that you can control instead of getting flummoxed over the things you can't.
2. See vegan life as a journey. Veganism is not a destination. You don't just arrive at this perfect place where everything in your life is completely animal-free. It would be fantastic, but it's simply not possible. Sometimes you won't know that certain items even contain animal products, until it comes out, such as in the news. But the thing to remember is that when you know better, you do better. Embrace the journey of knowledge.
3. Don't beat yourself up. You're not doing anyone any favors by beating yourself up when you accidentally eat or use a product containing animal-derived ingredients. If it's out of your control, don't feel guilty because that doesn't do you any good. Veganism is a lot like any other lifestyle choice: do what you can with what you have.
4. See the bigger picture. Imagine you're trying to lose 10 pounds. You start going to the gym daily to work out. Some days you can't make it or you're sick with flu, so you have to give it a miss. It doesn't matter because you've still gone to the gym many times over weeks and months - those few days you've skipped are not a big thing. It's the same with veganism. I'm not saying you should eat meat on some days (unless you're flexitarian, which is also fine) or that you shouldn't be 100 percent committed to your lifestyle choice, but just that it's important to keep your eye on the bigger picture. You're in this for a lifetime, not just for a week or month, so look at all the great things you're doing for animals and the planet in the bigger scheme of things instead of letting the small issues or errors bog you down.