Bombshell 70-Year-Old Raw Vegan Annette Larkins Leads Us to Fountain of Youth
Larkins grew up in Miami, and at 16, she married her high school sweetheart, Amos, to whom she's been wedded for 54 years. She gave birth to both her boys before she was 19 years old and became a lounge singer in Miami Beach in her late 20s, which (along with her stunning looks) helps to explain her remarkable ability to command a room. Not one to be tied down to a single calling, Larkins later worked in commercial food production, education, the airline industry, insurance sales, and writing; she has penned two booklets aimed at making her way of life accessible to others.
She also hosted Health Alternatives With Living Foods, a 12-part series on a local public television station where she demonstrated how to prepare tasty raw vegan meals. Her two-hour DVD, Annette's Raw Kitchen, is a followup to that show (it's available on her website alongside her writings). Among her favorite hobbies is building personal computers.
Larkins decided to go vegetarian in 1963, during a time when her husband owned and operated a butcher shop. Although she'd often felt a vague inkling that meat-eating was an unnatural choice for her, she recalls the exact moment she felt the wave of repulsion that started her on her journey into herbivorism. She saw a bloody ham hock hanging from the ceiling, and as she puts it, she was "done."
Two weeks later, she told her husband she hadn't eaten meat in a fortnight and planned never to do so again. He asked her whether he should take her to a doctor.
"I fell on the floor laughing," she says. "I told him: 'No, there's nothing wrong with me. I just don't want to eat dead animal flesh anymore.' I think he was watching me carefully for a little while after that, though."
Her husband was supportive and even attempted to follow her lead. He succeeded for six years before slipping back into his old habits. "He had the excuse that there weren't enough places around us to eat [with business clients]. So he started back with a little fish, and you know how that goes," Larkins says. (Their son is having better success -- he recently lost 40 pounds by eating a raw diet.)
Amos now eats a typical American diet and takes medications for his diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. He also looks his age. He's just nine years older than his wife, but people often mistake him for her father or even grandfather.
"There's a lot of love there, and he still treats me like a queen," Larkins says. "But we're two independent people; he can make his own choices. I don't try to force anyone to do anything."
Since the news video went viral, Larkins's phone has been ringing off the hook. She was filmed last week by The Doctors television show. "I'm hoping the surgeon on that show can dispel the myth once and for all that I've had surgery," Larkins laughs.
Plant-based diet champion Dr. Joel Fuhrman has invited her to participate in a video project, and she's been offered her own TV show on an undisclosed network (she turned it down). On top of that, orders for her booklets, words of praise, and cries for help are pouring in from Iceland, the UK, Hungary, Mongolia, Australia, Bulgaria, and Canada. Larkins dutifully responds to every order and every request -- even if sometimes her response has to be no.
"I had a girlfriend who would always tell me: 'You need to be the raw-food queen,'' and I would say, 'No, I don't want to be out front like that," Larkins says. "I did not want it to grow into anything huge. I was very comfortable doing my little stuff at home, printing out my little envelopes."
When people began reaching out in droves in response to her WPTV appearance, Larkins was reminded of her singing days in the '60s -- and the reason she eventually stepped out of the limelight.
"I like starring, but only when I want to star, and then I want to be left alone," she says. "I didn't want to be a commodity; I didn't want anyone trying to control me and manipulate me. So when this came along, it was a very strange feeling. It was great in one way, and in another it made me say, 'Well, there goes my privacy.'"
But one particular letter confirmed for Larkins that embracing the attention was worth the strain -- at least for now.
"A 22-year-old girl wrote to me and she said, 'Now that I have seen you, I'm no longer afraid of growing older, because I know that if I take care of myself, if I eat well, I know that one day I can be like you,'" Larkins says. "And it so impacted me, I said to myself, It would be selfish of you to have lived this life and enjoyed it so fully and been so blessed, and people are coming to you asking you for it... It would be selfish of you not to help these people."
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