Sure, you’ve probably heard of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, but what about KodakCoin for photographers? Or PotCoin for cannabis enthusiasts? How about DogeCoin for, yes, doge-lovers? Nowadays it seems like there’s a cryptocurrency—the so-called digital asset that relies on encryption techniques, and not a centralized bank, for regulation—for every pastime and predilection. So it’s only fitting that, given society’s collective shift towards healthier living, a new coin would emerge. And it’s called VeganCoin.
The brainchild of Tel Aviv-based CEO and co-founder Isaac Thomas—inspired by his own conversion to veganism two years ago—VeganCoin is meant to be the economic driver behind the entrepreneur’s soon-to-be-launched vegan digital platform, VeganNation, which will be a one-stop shop for plant-based meal-sharing, e-commerce, and content sharing. (Think of it as a vegan utopia made from 1s and 0s.) VeganCoin, currently in pre-sale for investors, is expected to launch its ICO (industry-speak for “initial coin offering,” meaning it will be available to the public) later this summer at a price of .50 cents. The market will determine its value from there.
Now, a vegan cryptocurrency may sound great in theory, but how can anyone ensure it’s actually vegan? Thomas admits it’s not a fool-proof system. “The idea of a cryptocurrency is transparency and validation. And that’s why it fits so perfectly with the vegan environment. We want a transparent world and we want a world where we can rely on that transparent information,” Thomas explains. “Because the currency is decentralized, I do not have the ability to ensure that a vegan coin will not be transacted with at a McDonald’s. [But] you can track that money forever and ever. If you see that a certain business or organization that you donated money to is turning around and doing something you don’t agree with with your money, you will stop doing business with that place.”
Likewise, if a certain coin becomes too tainted, consumers may decide not to buy or accept it, effectively blacklisting it from the economy.
So far, Thomas has a roster of at least 50 businesses willing to accept VeganCoin, including establishments in New York City, Los Angeles, and Miami, such as vegan eatery P.S. Kitchen. And he expects those numbers to only increase as the ICO looms. But much like VeganCoin itself, Thomas won’t be watchdog-ing these affiliated companies to ensure they’re 100 percent vegan. For now, he says, a handshake and a promise is all he needs.
With the launch of both VeganCoin and VeganNation, Thomas says he not only hopes to establish a worldwide networks for vegans to collaborate and coexist, but he also wants to change the ongoing discussion surrounding veganism in the greater worldwide economy.
“The power of community is what I love talking about most,” says Thomas. “We’ve gotten to an incredible place where veganism is reaching critical mass, but people don’t perceive veganism as economic power. I’d like to change that perception and take it to the next level.”
Yet some cryptocurrency experts aren’t sold on VeganCoin’s long-term viability.
“I’m not sure what is gained by limiting a coin to only vegans,” says Andrea O’Sullivan, a cryptocurrency analyst at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University in Virginia. “The economics are questionable: Arbitrarily limiting the market of a currency based on some aesthetic or moral boundary necessarily limits the extent of the growth of the market. Why would someone not just use a more saleable cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, which can access vegan goods as well, instead of VeganCoin?”
Whether vegans will scoop up VeganCoin like so much steaming hot seitan remains to be seen, but it appears that a few have gone before and been unsuccessful.
“This is not the first project of its kind,” says O’Sullivan. “A cursory search yields at least two separate vegan or vegetarian cryptocurrencies proffered since 2015: VeggieCoin/Voin and BitVegan. It does not look like these were earlier versions of the VeganCoin project. These coins failed to take off, so this may mean that there is less of a demand for a vegan-only cryptocurrency/ICO than the founders may think.”