Soycows & Vitagoats


What is a “SoyCow”?

A “SoyCow” is a processing system that can grind and cook whole soybeans into soymilk, from which beverages, soya “cheese” (tofu), yogurt and other soy foods can be made. The SoyCow can process 4 pounds of raw soybeans into 4 gallons of nutritious soymilk in about 20 minutes. This soymilk can then be further processed into value-added products such as tofu and yogurt as well as local food blends. A by-product of this process, the fiber-rich pulp commonly called “okara”, can be used in breads, spreads and many other foods.


How do “SoyCows” work?

The primary components of these systems are a grinder-cooker, steam boiler, and manual press. Whole soaked soybeans are dumped in the grinder-cooker along with water. The mixture is ground and cooked by using steam provided by the boiler. The cooked soy is then transferred to the manual press, in which a filter bag has been placed. The soy liquid or “milk” passes through the filter bag, while the undisolved fiber, the “okara” stays in the bag. The systems can operate with an electric boiler or a gas boiler running on propane or other liquid gas.

Where are SoyCows used?

Soycows are particularly well suited for developing countries with low labor costs. The operation of one unit can create employment for between 3-6 unskilled people while providing critical nutrition to hundreds. There are an estimated 3,000 systems in the world today, and about half of those are in Russia where the American Soybean Association-International Marketing worked to introduce them.


What is a “VitaGoat”?

The VitaGoat is a food processing system that can be used to create value-added products from cereals, grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables, enabling local groups to increase food security, improve health and create micro-businesses and employment. Primary foods can be processed into flours, pastes or wet slurries and used “as is” or further cooked with steam, as for soymilk and its various derivatives. Cooked foods can also be used “as is” or pressed in a manual filter press to make juices and energy-dense beverages. The key feature of the VitaGoat is that it can make all of these foods without the need for electricity; grinding is provided through “pedal power” while cooking energy is provided via an innovative and fuel-efficient steam boiler.


How do “VitaGoats” work?

The full system includes four components: A pedal-operated grinding / blending system, a steam boiler, a pressure-cooking vessel and a filter press. The use of steam-injected pressure-cooking is up to 10 times more energy-efficient than traditional open stove cooking. Some foods can also be prepared using only the pedal-operated grinder/blender, and do not require the boiler and pressure-cooker.

Where are VitaGoats used?

Between 2004 and 2007, 44 VitaGoats were installed in Africa, India and North Korea with over 40 more committed during the next two years. Many of the units installed in North Korea are used in social feeding programs in schools, orphanages and collective farms. In India, a women’s self-help group in Orissa uses the VitaGoat for a mid-day meal program. A training and support center is located in KwaZulu Natal in South Africa, and another one is in progress in Lusaka, Zambia.

How do SoyCow and VitaGoat units complement the dairy industry?

SoyCows and VitaGoats can provide protein rich-nutrition for people in developing countries where lactose-intolerance is common or where traditional dairy products are unavailable or expensive. Processing temperatures used in SoyCows and VitaGoats effectively sterilize the soyfoods, while providing safe drinking water, which is always a concern in developing countries. Traditional dairies are finding a demand for these soy products that can be marketed alongside milk products.

Why is WISHH involved?

SoyCow and VitaGoat units provide an excellent way to introduce soy into foods that are already popular in foreign countries as well as providing alternatives to more expensive or unavailable dairy foods. Furthermore, these small processing units provide the business model to prove soy processing can be scaled-up to successful large-scale businesses in the community or region. These units are also well received because they can accomplish the dual goal of providing protein-rich soy foods while creating business opportunities to boost the economic growth in developing countries. WISHH is leveraging soybean checkoff funds by working with the non-profit organization Malnutrition Matters, whose founders helped develop the SoyCow and VitaGoat, to help introduce the technology to Private Voluntary Organizations, who are buying them for use in their programs. They are also helping develop commercial “soy dairy” industries in these countries.
Link to Manufacturer’s website for more information on the SoyCow and VitaGoat.

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