I've known for years that my pill has animal derived products in it. I take it anyway. Just like I get immunised anyway. I do my best but if a vegan had cervical cancer they wouldn't be asking if the medicine was animal derived; they'd just be getting the medicine. Unless they were a really good vegan. I'm doing my part but I'm not perfect and I'm okay with that.
As a maths PhD student most my friends are also maths PhD students or at least have a maths/physics degree so I'm constantly surrounded by these highly intelligent specimens who all happen to fall somewhere relevant on the autism spectrum. In plain speak, they are a bunch of socially retarded dorks who get a little too excited when Terry Tao is in town. So when I step away from the group and interact with non-maths people (yes, ladies and gentlemen, the world is filled with three types of people: those that are good at maths and those that are not) I sometimes find it very vexing to try to understand the world from their point of view.
I think this is similar to the vegetarian/vegan movement or any movement. We form little groups and are so concerned about being the best little vegan we can be (or sometimes just better than everyone else) we lose sight of the bigger picture and how to spread our message. Vegans make up only 0.1% (or something equally ridiculously small; it's hard to get a good figure) of the world's population. We shouldn't be grouping ourselves on forums and making fun of each other because we didn't know that this really obscure additive was animal derived or that that company may provide a vegan option but did you know what they did last summer to this sheep... you get the picture. I mean, these are all very important issues and it is important that we are aware of them but it's also important that we don't just educate each other but that we also encourage each other.
I saw a post by someone on a vegetarian society forum today where the person asked if condoms were vegan (hence my link). It's a perfectly valid question and maybe the person didn't do as much research as they possibly could but they still came to the right circle of people to ask the question of. The only reply the person got was that normal people would know how to use the search function and have found previous posts on the same topic. Again, this isn't untrue, but it isn't exactly helpful either.
So this is one of the reasons I started this blog. As much as I want to interact with other vegans (I actually have zero vegan friends) and would love to swap recipes etc I would much prefer, any day, to have my vegetarian and omnivore friends over for a great vegan meal so I can share with them how rewarding it is to be vegan.
Was this a big long rant so that I can feel better about using animal products in the medication I take? Probably. But I'd like to think it's more about encouraging ideas than stamping over someone's little indiscretions. I have a friend who is a strict vegetarian except for salmon. She doesn't eat any other fish just salmon. But it doesn't make what she does, excluding the salmon, any less important. I would much rather an entire world that only ate salmon and no other meat than what we have today.
So being vegan (or even vegetarian) is sometimes a little too much effort so let's encourage little changes in everyone instead of picking flaws in an already very small group.