The outside of Annette Larkins's pastel-pink Kendall home looks like it belongs to a grown-up Barbie doll.
In a way, that's not far from the truth. Her curvaceous chest-to-waist-to-hip ratio must be close to that of America's favorite doll. One big difference, though, is there's no plastic on this all-natural 70-year-old beauty queen's face or body.
Larkins credits the plants, nuts, and seeds she's been living on for the past 27 years not only for her radiant, taut skin and foxy physique but also for the pristine bill of health she has enjoyed despite her chronic-disease-ridden family tree. (See a video of Annette after the jump.)
The raw vegan diet consists of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds that have not been brought to a temperature above 118 degrees. Raw vegans reason that the heating process kills enzymes and drastically reduces food's nutrient content.
Larkins grows much of her own food in her back yard, sprouts everything from broccoli to mung beans, and juices pineapples, sugarcane, homegrown wheatgrass, and almost anything else that grows out of the ground. Her collection of juicers -- from masticating to hydraulic press -- would put your local Jamba Juice to shame.
I found out about Larkins when a friend emailed me a viral video of her that aired on local South Florida WPTV station March 1. I had never seen a 70-year-old woman who looked as youthful and vibrant as she. I know that correlation doesn't prove causation. Still, the fact that the most youthful "elderly" woman I had ever come across happened to have adhered to a raw vegan diet for decades and a vegetarian diet for nearly half a century definitely provided yet more validation (beyond The China Study, Forks Over Knives, Eat to Live, Fat Sick and Nearly Dead, my own health, et al.) that I was on the right track with my own plant-rich vegan diet.
"She must just have good genes," many jaded friends said when I spoke excitedly of my upcoming meeting with Larkins. So I was curious to ask her whether her mother and grandmother had looked as youthful as she when they reached the ripe age of 70.
Turns out the question was not applicable. Both her mother and her grandmother died of breast cancer before their 50th birthdays. Besides that, diabetes runs rampant up and down her family line (as does a penchant for eating every part of a pig -- "even its squeal," according to Larkins). So much for good genes.
Of those aforementioned maladies, Larkins has experienced nothing. She doesn't even remember the last time she had a cold or took so much as an aspirin. But the diplomatic woman, who speaks three languages and sharpens her mind on her library of 5,000 books, acknowledges that genes are far from a nonissue when it comes to health and vitality.