The VitaCow has been in daily use in North Korea since 2004. It has also been used in some 40 other countries, most notably Russia. Operating like over-sized pressure cookers, these highly energy-efficient machines process soybeans into protein-rich soymilk. The soybeans are first soaked in water to soften them and then ground up to produce a slurry. After that, the mixture is pressure-cooked and filtered to make soymilk, as well as okara, or soy pulp, which can be used to make steamed soy cake or soup. Each machine can produce enough soymilk daily to meet the protein requirements of more than 2,000 young children.
Each batch of soybeans takes 20 to 30 minutes to be processed into soymilk. Typically, every kilogram of soybeans yields seven litres of soymilk. The VitaCow can produce 40 to 45 litres of soymilk per hour. The soymilk production of the VitaCow is so efficient that if it were to be used for seven hours straight, the amount yielded would equal to the daily milk output of at least 20 cows. First Steps has raised the funds to purchase and deliver 42 VitaCows to North Korea.
VitaCow in Nampo March, 2006
Photo: Frank Daller
VitaCows July, 2009
Photo: Mark Pearson