Animal rights come first at Éthique Nouveau shop

Chelsea Youngquist Hassler, program director at the Animal Rights Coalition at 48th & Grand, shows off a shirt that says “You betcha I’m vegan.” Photo by Michelle Bruch

Minnesota’s only “vegan boutique” is in Tangletown, where Éthique Nouveau sells cruelty-free cosmetics, dairy-free baking chips and children’s books for animal lovers.

Éthique Nouveau_2All of the proceeds fund advocacy at the Animal Rights Coalition (ARC), also based at the storefront at 317 W. 48th St.

ARC has been around since 1981, and Program Director Chelsea Youngquist Hassler said it’s one of the oldest animal advocacy groups in the country.

Barbara Stasz, a volunteer since the 90s, has protested traveling circuses, University of Minnesota experiments, and department stores selling fur on Nicollet Mall. She remembers watching dogs in cages leave Minneapolis Animal Care & Control in the 90s for lab research, a practice ended by legislation in 2012.

Barbara Stasz (l) and Chelsea Younquist Hassler at Ethique Nouveau.
Barbara Stasz (l) and Chelsea Younquist Hassler at Ethique Nouveau.

“In her 70s, she’s out there protesting and shaking things up,” Youngquist Hassler said.

As part of the Cuddle Coats program, volunteers strip out fur coat lining and send the pelts to wildlife rehabilitation partners, where ill and orphaned animals burrow into the furs.

“We just shipped out four boxes,” Youngquist Hassler said. “People have attics full of their grandmother’s fur coats and they don’t know what to do with them.”

Youngquist Hassler makes vegan wedding cakes, and she recently filmed ARC’s ninth episode of the new cooking show Feed Me Vegan.

She said she’s skeptical when she sees claims of humane animal treatment for food. She said grass-fed cattle isn’t a sustainable method for feeding the world; she said it’s land-intensive and something only the wealthy can afford. She said there are cage-free chickens who still live in crowded rooms.

“It’s all buzz words to make people feel better,” she said.

But the women have noticed a shift in attitudes over time. Two-hundred people attended ARC’s turkey-free Thanksgiving last year.

“I remember the first time I went to my church and said we should have a veggie burger. They didn’t know what to do,” said Stasz. “… If you keep at it, you can change the way people view creatures on Earth.”