When the folks who espouse your cause represent — generously — less than 10% of the population, you have a problem.

You can’t pretend that the movement with which you’re engaged is mainstream, so you have to do the next best thing: enlist celebrities the mainstream recognizes as “important” people.

Important, in that they’re famous, in many case for being famous.

You doubt the validity of that statement? Next time you’re stuck behind someone at the grocery checkout who’s apparently stocking up for Armageddon, leaf through a copy of People magazine. Or Us Weekly. But don’t just scan the cover stories; those are A-Listers who are in the news (usually for a traumatic break-up with another “famous” celebrity, entry/exit from rehab or the contraction of a deadly disease that’s left them on death’s door).

Instead, leaf through the news items in the back of the magazine, and see if those folks are familiar.

For example, how about these names? Ali Fedotowsky. Alessandra Ambrosio. Alyson Hannigan. Adam Brody. Ace Young. Alex Bledel. Alex McCord. Alex O’Loughlin. Alex Pettyfer.

Or how about Anna McCord. Anna Paquin. AnnaSophia Robb. Anna Wintour. Or Ashlee Simpson. Ashley Benson. Ashley Greene. Ashley Herbert. Ashley Tisdale.

Any of them ring a bell?

And that’s just the “As” in Us Weekly’s alphabetical “Directory of Celebrities.”

Point is, as a society, we’re rotten with celebrities, and so no matter what the cause, there are plenty of folks from that directory available to provide an endorsement.

We’ll continue to be generous and assume that those who do join some movement truly believe in whatever it is they’re lending their names to, and that they’re not doing it for the added publicity.

Beyond what they’re already getting from getting mentioned in a gossip column on page 64 of People, that is.

Character Counts

The vegan/vegetarian movement has long embraced the idea that if they headline their campaigns with famous people, they’ll get more traction than if they try to sell their ideas to the other 95% of us who don’t buy into their never-ever-use-animals-for-anything philosophy.

But to be honest, name recognition is one thing; content of character quite another.

Here’s a list of some of the more prominent people vegans put forth as (alleged) supporters of their cause — although, as they say in court, let’s specify that “cause” includes everything from not eating meat to not wearing fur to not buying pets to not watching a circus to not wearing leather to not utilizing any medical or surgical procedure that might have involved animal research.

Oh, wait. Sorry. Even diehard veggies don’t actually refuse life-saving procedures on ethical grounds. In fact, like the rest of us, they insist on the “best” and most qualified doctors and surgeons. You know, the ones who early on practiced extensively on animals.

That said, check out this list of so-called vegetarian advocates:

·         Howard Stern. Yes, Howard and his wife Beth are considered animal lovers. Why? Because they espouse pet rescue and adoption, which is a far cry from agitating for the abolishment of livestock production. And it’s fair to say that Stern’s “talent,” as exposed on his long-running radio show, runs right into the gutter. Sure, you’ve heard of him, but other than some vicarious enjoyment as a result of his unrelenting crudity, is he really a role model we’d want to emulate?

·         Olivia Munn. Munn has the following films to her credit: “Scarecrow Gone Wild;” “Date Night;” “The Babymakers;” and “Deliver Us From Evil.” Not exactly a bunch of Best Picture nominees. In fact, Munn is on the celebrity radar mainly because she’s hooked up with Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. But she agreed to hook up with PETA to endorse an anti-circus ban, so she gets grouped in with the activists who blame cattle producers for climate change, obesity and a multitude of chronic diseases.

·         Miley Cyrus. Do we really have to catalog the list of outrageous stunts Ms. Cyrus has pulled in an effort to lift her “star” status? Yeah, she’s famous — famous for setting new lows in bad behavior. But again, she posts on social media about hunters and people who abuse their pets — as if they belong in the same category — so she’s proudly championed by anti-industry types as a sister-in-arms.

·         Pamela Anderson. As an actress, Anderson perfected the art of slow-motion jogging across a beach while her most prominent “assets” were bouncing around inside her bathing suit. But she’s included in the pantheon of vegan supporters, principally because she appeared in salacious PETA ads “wearing nothing at all” in preference to wearing fur.

·         Martha Stewart. Ex-con Stewart is genuinely famous — famous for biting someone’s head off if they don’t snap to when she’s working on the set of her TV show or making a promotional appearance for one of her many overpriced lines of housewares, clothing or gadgets that attempt to convey status on the purchaser. But she’s front and center demanding a ban on horse-drawn carriages, so put her up there in the vegan hall of fame.

Accept that the name recognition of the folks listed above can leverage a fair amount of public opinion.

But let’s not pretend that any of them, or their brethren-in-belief, have any substantive suggestions for better ways to utilize farmland, produce nutritious food and ensure sustained agricultural productivity than the system we already have in place.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of Dan Murphy, a veteran journalist and columnist.