Deforestation in the Amazon rainforest (Shutterstock) (Shutterstock)
Deforestation in the Amazon rainforest (Shutterstock)

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Recognizing that the Amazon’s destruction affects the entire world, an Israeli startup CEO seized the opportunity to be a “light unto the nations” and help.

By United with Israel Staff

Israeli startup VeganNation is partnering with four Brazilian soccer teams to help preserve the Amazon rainforest and raise environmental awareness. Its initiative, called “United Saving the Amazon,” comes amid devastating fires that have burned since early August.

“The Amazon rainforest might be located in Brazil, but its destruction affects us all, as climate change is a direct result of human activity and it’s in our hands to fight it,” Isaac Thomas, VeganNation CEO and co-founder, said according to NoCamels.

VeganNation seeks to unite the approximately 300 million vegans worldwide through its global e-commerce platform and its own traceable digital currency and social marketplace.

In September, it leased some 15,000 acres (60.7 square kilometers or 23.4 square miles) in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, for a ten-year period, to protect the land from deforestation and wildlife poaching.

The land will be overseen by local preservation groups and activists. They will work to educate and raise awareness about sustainability and saving the environment as well as defend it against destruction by governments and businesses. It does not appear that any indigenous communities live on it.

How Sports Can Help Save the Planet

“VeganNation understands that promoting veganism is an important step towards fighting the global warming crisis and raising awareness through local environmental projects among the Brazilian community is key,” Thomas said, according to NoCamels. “Partnering with four Brazilian soccer teams further enables us toward our mission of working together to create a better world.”

The four soccer teams that have teamed up with VeganNation to help save the rainforest are Remo, Paysandu, National, and Iranduba, each based in a city at the entrance to the rain-forest.

The CEO noted, “When we measure the destruction of the rainforest, we talk about [soccer] fields as a unit. So, we thought, what if we use that same measure to save parts of it?” The leased land covers over 5,500 soccer fields.

The startup recently raised $10 million in funding from private investors and is working to raise another $10 million for its projects.

Brazilian soccer legend Marcos Evangelista de Morais, known as “Cafu,” is on VeganNation’s advisory board, serving as the company’s sustainability ambassador. Over a 16-year period, Cafu played a record 142 games for Brazil’s national team and led them to three World Cup Finals, with World Cup wins in 1994 and 2002.

Its advisory board also includes celebrity vegan activists Jerome Flynn (Game of Thrones) and actor and dancer Jenna Dewan.

When announcing the partnership with Cafu, Thomas pointed out that the passion sports brings out in people needs to be channeled to save the planet. “We need to connect the world of football with sustainability, with the need to support recycling and the environment,” he said.

“It is really important to have a healthy environment, and to help the Amazon – a really important cause to embrace and be a part of,” said Cafu, following his visit to the company’s offices, according to i24News.

“What’s happening in the Amazon is a huge concern, not only for us Brazilians but to anyone who cares about planet Earth,” he said. “We should all care about our planet, and that’s why education is such an important step. Once we all agree on the importance of caring about how we treat our planet, we’ll start seeing real change.”

Importance of the Amazon Rainforest

The Amazon rainforest is considered vital to the health of the earth and its inhabitants. It is the richest and most bio-diverse ecosystem in the world. It is home to half the world’s estimated 10 million species of animals, plants, and insects. Its enormous, yet untapped, plant life are assumed by many to contain compounds that can heal many illnesses.

This year’s fires first seemed to fit normal, season patterns. However, according to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, when they reached a 47 percent increase compared to last year, many were led to assume that they were intentionally set by cattle ranchers and loggers seeking to clear the land for beef production.

“Brazil’s passion for football is well known around the world, and we believe that channeling that same energy on environmental efforts could make a huge impact,” Thomas said, according to i24News. “We’re really looking forward to working together with such an important figure in Brazilian football history such as Cafu, and having the support of the four biggest football teams in Brazil is an amazing opportunity for us to spread the word on sustainability and vegan lifestyle.”

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