By Ingrid Sjostrand
A cardiologist by day and restauranteur by night, Kahn has been vegan since college. A combination of necessity from trying to find Kosher foods around the campus of the University of Michigan and his mother’s cooking style at home led to him eating fully plant-based for nearly ten years before starting his career. Naturally, he began incorporating nutrition into his practice.
“I started teaching every patient that we can do a bypass and I can do stents, but they could get out of this pickle they are in…by eating pickles,” Kahn says. “I’m fortunate that I had something to offer people, which was prevention, and the opportunity to get off medication and avoid operations.”
Kahn calls this practice “inter-preventional cardiology” – a twist on the standard interventional practice of treatment.
“WHAT I FOUND REALLY INTERESTING WAS IN MY 30 OR 40 MINUTES with a patient during a procedure I had a great opportunity to teach them how to never come back. That was the best and most effective time. I started talking about diet, sleep and fitness and a lot of them made some really significant changes,” Kahn says. “So I came up with this word, I can do interventional cardiology like other cardiologists. But I really want you to never be here again because you’ve learned the tricks of a healthy lifestyle, and eating is the biggest one.”
Outside of his practice, Kahn has worked to make healthier, plant-based food more accessible to more people. He’s written five books and is about to publish his sixth in 2020. He also teaches at both Wayne State University and Oakland University, but one of the biggest ways he’s done this is through his restaurant, GreenSpace Cafe, which he opened in 2015 with his son Daniel. Located at 215 W Nine Mile Rd, GreenSpace’s menu is locally-sourced and free of GMOs, processed foods, fryers, microwaves and animal products.
KAHN SAYS. “WE’VE TRIED VERY HARD TO EMPHASIZE REAL FOOD, old food, healing food. This is certainly not a medical clinic, but you can create great food and great-tasting food from real ingredients without processed chemicals.” The menu changes based on ingredients available seasonally. Another unique attribute of Greenspace compared to other local vegan restaurants is that they have a full bar. They regularly host events ranging from plant-based breakfast for dinner, staying healthy during the holidays to a presentation of a vegan bellydancing troupe.
“It’s been an amazing ride. I’m here most nights, Daniel is here most days, my wife is here a lot and we’ve served over 500,000 meals,” Kahn says. “We want to make sure everyone who comes here has some comfortable options to eat. We have seen so many people that have never been in a restaurant with plant-based options, and that’s been really great.”
IN 2018, THEY EXPANDED THE BRAND and opened Greenspace-And-Go in Royal Oak: a fast-casual space with dine-in, carry out and catering and a completely different menu cooked almost entirely without oil.
“You can’t help but notice around the country in the last couple of years that people are starting to be more conscious of what they are eating. I don’t know if anyone would have predicted that mainstream America is trying plant-based substitutes,” Kahn says.
“Very honestly, I don’t need to be in the restaurant business, I want to be in the restaurant business. We’re proud to have survived in a tough industry for four years and plan to be here for many more; we welcome everyone to come in just once or every night.”
How to take the first steps to change your eating:
1. “Decrease the garbage because it’s bad for you and have awareness of what you are putting into your body. Realize that food is medicine and bad food can be poison. Most people aren’t really thinking as they eat a meal ‘is this promoting my health so I don’t have to take medication or have surgery?”
2. “Increase the good stuff, I like Meatless Monday for people that are starting. Start with one day a week where you have a smoothie or oatmeal or skip breakfast, bring a salad to lunch that is loaded with protein or beans and peas and carrots and maybe a little cubed tofu, make it bulky and find a way to make a cheeseless pizza at home and add every vegetable in the world.”
3. “Get rid of dairy seven days a week – ‘Dairy is scary,’ as we say. Dairy causes acne, bloating, gas issues, stuffy nose.”
Dr. Kahn recommends two documentaries • Forks Over Knives/Netflix • Game Changers – Netflix