Vegetarian Action

John Lytle: Vegan Cooking at a Soup Kitchen

One of The Vegetarian Resource Group's members, John Lytle from New Jersey, has been volunteering with his family at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Montclair, Montclair Emergency Services for the Homeless (UUCM MESH).

John, along with his wife and daughter, goes to the soup kitchen almost every Wednesday to prepare a vegan meal. "I'm known as the dessert guy," he said. To meet the quantity needs of the people there, John used the VRG's book Simply Vegan and modified our Chocolate Pudding recipe to serve 72 portions, rather than three. "It was well received. I usually don't make 72 portions of anything, but last week we had 60 guests and the math worked well, grossing up the recipe that is, for making 3 batches of 24 portions each. We ended up having 66 guests, and having 60 or more seems to be the new normal." He even tweaked our original recipe a bit, putting a Mexican twist on some servings of the chocolate pudding by adding cinnamon and chili pepper for a spicy kick.

Though John has earned his reputation as the dessert guy at UUCM MESH, he recently decided to serve one of VRG's savory dishes as well: Vegan Sloppy Joes from the Vegan Cowboy Cuisine article in Issue 2 2010 of Vegetarian Journal. Based on the results of a test-run when he made the sloppy joes at home for his family, he made a few adjustments to our recipe when doubling the portion size to serve at UUCM MESH and it sounds like a hit. You can read his complete recipe on his blog: and you can find our Chocolate Pudding recipe, along with many more, in Simply Vegan, which is available for purchase on our website at

Chocolate Pudding Recipe from Simply Vegan

(Serves 3)

  • 1 ½ cups soymilk
  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 2 bananas, sliced (optional)

Whisk all the ingredients (except the bananas) together in a pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until pudding thickens.

Remove pot from stove. Stir in sliced bananas if desired. Chill for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Variation: Replace chocolate powder with non-dairy carob powder.

Measurements for 12 servings:

  • 6 cups (1.5 quarts) soymilk
  • ¾ cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup cocoa powder

Measurements for 24 servings:

  • 12 cups (3 quarts) soymilk
  • 1 ½ cups cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups maple syrup
  • 2 cups cocoa powder

Measurements for 30 servings:

  • 15 cups (1 gallon minus 1 cup) soymilk
  • 1 ¾ cups plus 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups maple syrup
  • 2 ½ cups cocoa powder