In an innovative endeavor, NotCo, a Chilean plant-based food company, has successfully engineered a soup that emulates the taste of traditional turtle soup yet contains no actual turtle. This culinary feat was achieved through the use of sophisticated artificial intelligence that analyzed over 300,000 plant species and made 260 quintillion combinations to identify a precise blend of five plant proteins that closely mimic the flavor and texture of turtle meat. This project not only showcases the potential of AI in culinary science but also serves a greater ecological purpose—raising awareness about the plight of endangered turtles, whose populations have been decimated by hunting for human consumption.

The creation and development of this faux turtle soup were documented in a film that details the extensive laboratory and industrial processes involved. According to Bernardo Moltedo, the AI culinary science leader at NotCo, the initiative has been in development for several years, driven by a philosophy of questioning the status quo and harnessing technology for conservation efforts. Currently, the plant-based turtle meat and its derivative soup are not commercially available; however, the company plans to offer a virtual class to instruct interested individuals on how to prepare this sustainable dish. NotCo, which already operates in 12 countries, is known for its array of plant-based products that replicate the sensory qualities of animal-derived foods. They have announced plans to go public in 2025. This innovation comes at a critical time as green turtles remain on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list of endangered species, with their survival threatened by environmental and human factors. Despite legal protections, the demand for turtle soup persists in various regions, highlighting the urgent need for sustainable alternatives like the one NotCo has developed.