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AI-powered plant-based turtle soup aims to protect endangered species

May 7, 2024

A Chilean plant-based food company, NotCo, is taking a unique approach to raising awareness about the endangered status of turtles. They've created a turtle soup entirely from plant-based ingredients, using artificial intelligence (AI) to replicate the taste and texture of the traditional dish.

The creation process is documented in a film that follows the journey from laboratory development to industrial production. Interspersed throughout the film are segments highlighting the environmental impact of hunting turtles for human consumption.

"We wanted to generate a positive impact through artificial intelligence," commented Bernardo Moltedo, NotCo's AI culinary science leader. "We've been working on this for several years, driven by the question 'why not?' That's why we decided to focus on helping endangered species, like the green sea turtle traditionally used in turtle soup."

NotCo's AI technology analyzed a massive dataset of 300,000 plants, generating a staggering 260 quintillion combinations to identify the perfect plant-based substitute for turtle meat.

While the plant-based turtle soup and its meat substitute are not yet commercially available, the company plans to hold a virtual cooking class to teach people how to prepare the dish. This aligns with NotCo's existing strategy of offering plant-based alternatives to popular animal products like hamburgers, milk, and ice cream. They utilize AI to find the optimal plant-based ingredients and have expressed plans for an initial public offering (IPO) in 2025.

Green turtles, the traditional ingredient in turtle soup, are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  Their populations are threatened by pollution, extreme weather events, and overfishing.  The exploitation of these sea turtles is already prohibited in most countries worldwide.

Despite the bans, turtle soup remains a delicacy in parts of Asia and Latin America. NotCo's innovative plant-based turtle soup offers a delicious and sustainable alternative, raising awareness about the importance of protecting these magnificent creatures.

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