Israeli startup VeganNation goes global with mobile app

The app currently includes about 65,000 businesses. At the start, it will be active in Tel Aviv, Sydney, Amsterdam, Berlin, Toronto, Portland, areas of California and in New York City.

 ISAAC THOMAS, VeganNation founder and chairman. (photo credit: SHAHAR AZRAN)
ISAAC THOMAS, VeganNation founder and chairman.
(photo credit: SHAHAR AZRAN)

NEW YORK – This Hanukkah, Jewish families across the US are set to gather for a traditional holiday meal, featuring platefuls of brisket and roasted chicken, and sour cream lumped on top of latkes.

But, a nation within the nation will be serving up something else.

VeganNation, an Israeli start-up, is ready to launch its new mobile app this week. The goal is to create a global vegan community, where people can search for vegan restaurants and stores – ranging from food to fashion, health and wellness – no matter where they are. The app aims to integrate social networking in developing a sustainable online marketplace and with an economy created by a green payment-method option. 

“We’re building a technological platform and infrastructure to unite the vegan community and conscious consumer into one ecosystem, connecting businesses and consumers from around the world to make it plant-based, sustainable, accessible and affordable,” Isaac Thomas, VeganNation founder and chairman, said.

The app currently includes about 65,000 businesses. At the start, it will be active in Tel Aviv, Sydney, Amsterdam, Berlin, Toronto, Portland, areas of California and in New York City, where Thomas was visiting this week.

A vegan friendly sticker in seen on the door of a Domino's Pizza restaurant in Tel Aviv (credit: BAZ RATNER/REUTERS)A vegan friendly sticker in seen on the door of a Domino's Pizza restaurant in Tel Aviv (credit: BAZ RATNER/REUTERS)

One of those businesses is Flower Power Herbs & Roots, which features seemingly every herb and oil available, stacked high in containers on metal shelves. Thomas made a stop there, with the owner claiming the app has the potential to prove vegans are a demographic worthy of more of the business world’s attention.

“I’m gratified to see so many people becoming vegans, and having a collective is a wonderful idea. Not that I think everybody who shops here is a vegan – I’m not even a vegan completely,” Lata Kennedy, who has owned Flower Power for nearly three decades, said. “But we need this collective to represent and to show the market what value we have as plant-based consumers.” 

Flower Power can be found on the app, and accepts GreenPay, which serves as VeganNation’s digital wallet, facilitating in-app purchases and a loyalty rewards program. The ultimate goal is to make VeganNation’s currency, called GreenCoin, the official alternative currency instrument for the global plant-based community.

Essentially, GreenCoin, set to launch at the end of November, would assure members that their funds always remain within VeganNation’s ecosystem. Two months ago, VeganNation became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sipup Corp., a development stage company that produces, packs and sells flavored yogurts. A report filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission at the time noted that VeganNation is exploring listing its cryptocurrency on Bittrex and other crypto exchanges.

“By using GreenCoin as the unifying factor between consumers expecting to purchase plant-based products with their GreenCoins and merchants willing to accept GreenCoins, we believe that GreenCoin can also function as a catalyst for the aggregation of highly valuable data that can then be leveraged to provide ongoing reality checks for the standards we want to implement,” Thomas said.

Those standards would be verified through its Evergreen Supply Chain Tracking and Verification System, which would work in tandem with VeganNation’s online marketplace to ensure the products and services offered for sale meet the plant-based/sustainability standards that are to be established.

The system is envisioned to fully automate each of the supply chain steps, from production to delivery, in order to assess whether a particular product or service meets the requisite verification standards. VeganNation also intends to crowdsource the standards among its members and users within the vegan and related ecosystems. 

It’s a lot to take in for a small business owner like Kennedy, who is taking an optimistic but cautious view toward the app. 

“I think it’s a little too early to tell where the app has made a difference in our business. We probably are very popular amongst vegans already. But, I am familiar with the application and I appreciate that people will get points. I don’t understand cryptocurrency at all. I hope we still get paid,” she says laughing, “but it’s exciting.”

Thomas later made his way to The Organic Grill, one of the first organic and vegan restaurants on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, opened in memory of the owner’s mother, who turned to a vegan diet while battling advanced lymphoma.

The Hanukkah menu is a bit different there. Yes, there’s brisket – but it’s made of seitan, a vegan meat substitute made entirely out of hydrated gluten. The latkes are of the more classic variety, along with leek and fennel and sweet potato and leek options. But, the applesauce is sugar free and the sour cream is made from sunflower seeds. And there’s definitely no schmaltz in the matza balls.

It’s probably not your bubbe’s holiday fare. But, it’s a few clicks away on the VeganNation app, soon to be payable with cryptocurrency.

“We’re in a different world now,” said Kennedy.