Is it really wrong to mock vegetables?

When people band together in groups and begin to exert their power, it’s described as democracy. Or looting.

Sometimes, the power exerted is disproportionate to the power that’s really held.

Which is why I feel a curious indigestion at the fact that Taco Bell, which has stood firmly on the side of meat-based traditionalism, has allowed itself to be bullied by a bunch of vegetables.

To be marginally more accurate, the company that bought you meat and chihuahuas — but not, of course, chihuahua meat (that would be too expensive) — appears to have knelt beneath the ululation of a vegetable lobby that didn’t appreciate jokes about vegetables.

As Yahoo News explained it, Taco Bell ran an ad in which the truth overflowed.

“Veggies on game day is like punting on 4th-and-1,” began the ad.

“Secretly, people kinda hate you for it,” it continued.

Is there anyone prepared to offer that this is not absolute truth?

Is there anyone who would dare claim that they had witnessed a bunch of football fans see their fellow man or woman arrive at the door with carrots and scream: “Yeah! The carrots are here! Now we can get the party started!”

They would be more likely say that when Carrot Top arrived. But only marginally.

Vegetables represent that side of us which is responsible and, well, guilty.

It’s the side of us that knows what’s good for us. It’s the side that fights every day with the side that says: “Let’s do something that makes our pulse rate rise, our skin comes out in bubbles and our eyelids flutter involuntarily.”

A vegetable is the lover you marry, the one who explains why you need beige sofas, cream walls and an ottoman for grandma.

A vegetable will drive you to the hospital when you’ve merely cut yourself shaving. It will give you an offended look when you tell the joke about the Unitarian, the unicorn and the unicycle. It will insert parental controls on your computer — for you.

The vegetable is the actuary of food.

I know that chefs all over the world are creating wonderful dishes that feature vegetables in guises you might never have imagined. Yes, they often make them taste like meat.

But then these very same chefs finish their day’s work and disappear to some late-night hole-in-the-wall where they wolf down half a carcass of wolf, accompanied by the world’s most acceptable of vegetables, the french fry.

Please, I eat vegetables. I like them. They make me feel good.

But ultimately, they are invited to my party on the plate because I know they will wash the dishes afterward.

To mock a vegetable is no different than to mock a parson, a bicyclist or a Member of Congress.

We know why they’re there. We know why they’re doing what they’re doing.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t laugh about why they’re there and what they’re doing.

In fact, we laugh precisely because we know why they’re there and what they’re doing.

Vegetables are inherently funny.

They’re the prototypical straight men for us, the wayward, irresponsible jokesters.

They’re the people who sit on the couch specifically so that the talk-show host can bounce a few bons-mots off them.

There is no shame in being a vegetable. They are to be respected and appreciated.

But not to the degree that the turnips at The Center for Science in the Public Interest require. These are the people who urged their fellow vegetablists to complain about the Taco Bell ad.

These are the people who managed to have it removed from the nation’s visual menu.

These are the people who claimed that this honest, sincere and very American ad somehow discouraged people from eating vegetables.

It didn’t

It merely reminded them what a vast and unforgivable social and moral faux-pas it is to turn up at a Super Bowl party bearing celery.

Everyone knows that to be true.

How is it that the Center for Science in the Public Interest doesn’t?