Oprah and Sheri

Oprah Show executive producer Sheri wants to take Harpo where it's never gone before. "We've done so many shows on food that you need to make sure you have some new things to talk about and to say," she says. "So what we came up with is to have everybody here at Harpo go vegan for one week."

A vegan diet is completely plant based, and no animal-based products are eaten at all. If Oprah agrees, Sheri, senior supervising producer Lisa and producer Eric plan to bring in vegan expert Kathy Freston to lead a workshop on giving a vegan lifestyle a go. "It's one week out of their life. And maybe it's not on everybody's to-do list," Lisa says. "But if they do it, maybe everybody will move a little bit more in the direction of compassion towards animals and eating less meat."

Sheri pitches Oprah, who also pledges to take the challenge. "I think that's exciting," Oprah says. "I thought that was a really good idea because there's always pleasure in greater numbers."

Watch Oprah share her vegan tips during a preshow meeting
Vegan meeting

Day 1 of the vegan challenge kicks off with Kathy Freston's workshop. The studio is filled with 375 eager—and a few skeptical—participants. "I think the Harpo staff is really up for this challenge," Lisa says. "We're a bit of a different group here. We're all overachievers. So I think that because they said they're going to do it, they're going to do it."

Watch Lisa counsel supervising senior producer Jill through a vegan dinner roadblock
Oprah and Tommie

On Day 2, Lisa and Oprah head over to the Harpo café, which is providing daily vegan options, to see what the buzz is about. "That's sort of the hub of activity this week," Lisa says. "People are talking about it, and they're excited about it, and they're complaining about it."

Watch Oprah's visit to the café 

During lunch, Oprah sits with three Harpo staffers. "It really bonded people in a way that they'd never been before," Oprah says. "Because when you could sit up and talk with your co-workers about passing gas, that means you've created a level of intimacy like no other.

Still, Oprah has one concern about the challenge: "What happens when 375 people have had beans for lunch?"

Oprah and Kathy Freston

After the challenge ends, Lisa and her team compile the footage they've been shooting and turn it into a show with Kathy Freston and food expert Michael Pollan. "I'm so proud of the people here at Harpo. They're always usually up for anything," Lisa says. "And I think that's what life is about. It's about trying different things."

Some Harpo staffers say they're ready to make a permanent change. "Many years ago, I was a vegetarian, and so this really agrees with me," director Joe says. "I have more energy."

Oprah says Stedman wants to continue, but she's ready to incorporate some animal products back into her diet. "I thought it was great for all of Harpo, but it was a little hard for me for the first four days," Oprah says. "I'm not fully ready to never have another piece of fish. ... I would say I'm veganish."
Find out how other Harpo staffers reacted to the challenge

After taping, Oprah is happy with the entire experience. "I think that that show accomplished exactly what it set out to do," Oprah says. "The show was not set out to make everybody become a vegan. The show was to explore the possibility of you thinking differently about a plant-based diet and perhaps maybe leaning in to being more healthy. And I certainly think it accomplished that."

Take the challenge for yourself with this vegan starter kit 

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