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An Open Letter To Swingers: Food Shouldn’t Hurt.

The first time I ate at Swingers I likened it to Kate’s Joint, my beloved East Village diner, which may not be widely believed to be beloving worthy anymore. I was so happy! Not entirely vegetarian but surprisingly vegan friendly (surprise due in part to the cow portraits as wall art), Swingers has two locations (one in West Hollywood and one in Santa Monica) with near identical pop punk decor, sort of like when you get neighboring hotel rooms and they’re mirror images of each other. Did I mention the waitresses wear goth catholic school girl uniforms?

Sadly, there is no Unturkey Club. Or Buffalo Wingless burgers. I don’t think I’ve ever had a less edible veggie burger than the one at Swingers. But I’m getting ahead of my complaining… I have been to Swingers lots of times for lots of reasons: it was very close to where I was picketing during the writers strike and they gave us free foods (rumor on the street had it that the generosity was due to Drew Carey, a fan of writers, being a part owner), it’s one of the few places in LA that’s open almost 24-hours, non-vegans always suggest it as a compromise and it seems like a fair one. But here’s what I’ve finally come to realize–explosive diarrhea is not a compromise I am willing to make anymore. I’ve tried their vegan pancakes (with and without chocolate chips), I’ve had their vegan sloppy joe, I’ve eaten their vegan nachos, their tofu chilaquiles, the vegan cobb salad, the vegan cheesecakes they used to carry and every single time, without fail, I spent the next morning paying a non-monetary price of the bathroom kind.

I’m not sure what they’re doing over there. Is it the water? It tastes like it could be the water. We are close to Mexico, and this is starting to feel like a third-world country (we’re paying our government employees in IOUs whaa?), but that’s ridiculous. Even when I abstained from drinking their undrinkable tap water the results were the same. Is the vegan cheese not really vegan after all? (Maybe Operation Pancake needs to do some sleuthin’…) Possible, but a li’l casein wouldn’t make me that ill. I have an on-the-stronger-side stomach (not quite carbon steel, stainless maybe. And here’s the thing: I have talked to other vegans and they have said The. Same. Thing.

So let this be a warning to you, dear SV readers. Learn from my repeated suffering. I gave them many too many chances, thinking like an abuse victim that this time would be different. This time they wouldn’t hurt me. THEY ALWAYS HURT ME. From the inside so you don’t see it, and where it’s easy to forget. But just like that lady from the Modern Love column in the NYTimes last weekend, I will no longer take part in this suffering. There is better vegan food out there for me in Los Angeles. Maybe not after 10pm, but still…


  1. Comment by


    on #

    Any body else been made ill by a vegan establishment more than once? Where?

  2. Comment by


    on #

    wow, that is awful that you get sick after eating at swingers! i wonder if i do too…..i eat there so rarely that it would be hard for me to notice.

    i am going to pay verrrrrry close attention to my stomach next time i dine there.

    great post!

  3. Comment by


    on #

    Weird…I eat at the Swingers in Santa Monica once a week or so and have never felt ill. I often go there with out-of-town omni visitors because I like how flexible their menu is as far as veganizing things (no extra charge to sub tofu for chicken in any dish, or veggie sausage instead of meat, etc). Sorry it wreaks havoc on your system, but my tummy is always happy after a visit there!

    I will agree that the veggie burger is pretty lame, though. I had it on my very first visit, was confused at how it could be so boring, and haven’t tried it since.

  4. Comment by


    on #

    Just heard a rumor there is casein in their “vegan” cheese as well.