When American entrepreneur Isaac Thomas and his business partners set out to establish a chain of vegan restaurants in the US, they soon realized this wasn’t enough.
With the hundreds of millions of vegans and vegetarians around the world in mind, they swiftly expanded their vision to something a lot more far-reaching – to found the first global vegan-friendly decentralized community platform. With this, VeganNation was born.
VeganNation CEO and co-founder Thomas went vegan two years ago, leading him to realize there was a lack of vegan options in the US.
When looking into opening restaurants in the country “we realized that as many restaurants as we open, we’re not meeting the need and challenges of vegans around the world,” he tells The Jerusalem Post, The basic challenges he says is finding accessible, affordable vegan food anywhere in the world.
“That’s when we came up with idea of VeganNation to unite vegans from around the world.”
Last year Thomas, together with his three Israeli co-founders, Nati Giat, Shenor Shapira and Yossi Raybi, founded their company in Tel Aviv, in a shared working space where the Post interviewed Thomas on Monday.
VeganNation is based on a few main pillars. The first is economy, which includes food, food sharing and commerce.
The idea of food sharing, Thomas explains, is like couch-surfing for vegan food, through which home-cooked meals can be shared around the same dinner table, or can service more than one person or family through a takeout service. This provides a solution to the many cities in the world that don’t offer many vegan options.
“This makes it easier to sustain a vegan lifestyle,” Thomas says. “One of main challenges of turning and staying vegan is the lack of a support system around you. So by bringing people together around dinners it will help provide a support system for people who are going vegan.”
Vegan e-commerce is another pillar, from clothing to accessories, to cosmetics.
“Anything we consume in daily life, we want to make sure it’s done without harming animals and through fair trade. We will be a marketplace for vegan vendors to sit on our platform,” he says.
The platform will also be space for content sharing, of media, recipes, news and blogs.
“The idea is to build a full vegan ecosystem where vegans can find food, commerce and content in one place.”
VeganNation’s very own cryptocurrency, the Vegan Coin, is key in this venture.
When members join the platform, they will be provided with a “passport” – VeganNation’s digital wallet.
“Someone can be the biggest vegan activist but when they have a dollar bill in their pocket – yesterday it could have been at McDonald’s,” says Thomas. “It’s like the idea of blood diamonds. For the vegan person, the old currency is the same thing.” The VeganCoin is based on the premise that all affiliated businesses are vegan and cruelty-free.
Citing Paul McCartney’s famous quote that “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian,” Thomas says that blockchain, a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography, is that glass wall.
“We are moving toward a world where people can see everything and can be responsible for the way they consume.
They can track their money. So bringing cryptocurrency to the vegan community brings it full circle,” he adds, stating that in his eyes, veganism, cryptocurrency and blockchain go hand in hand toward a world of transparency and awareness.
Vegan businesses around the world have already announced they will accept Vegan Coin; most recently, Europe’s first vegan supermarket chain Veganz came on board, Thomas says. Israel’s Let the Animals Live organization has also expressed its support.
VeganNation is currently in the middle of its Initial Coin Offering and VeganCoin is set go on sale to the public at the beginning of September.