08/20/2012 at 09:00 AM EDT
She's been married to Channing Tatum
for three years, but these days, there's another special someone in Jenna Dewan-Tatum's life.
Her affection for Zeus, an abused pig rescued by animal sanctuary The Gentle Barn
from a fair, began when she read his story.
"It stuck with me," the actress, 31, tells Self
magazine, which highlights Dewan-Tatum as one of 2012's Women Doing Good.
So she sponsored Zeus, a $30 commitment once a month.
But then she visited the Barn, where she met farm animals in need, and "my time there was transformative," she says.
"When I'm passionate about something, I have to take action," she says. "If we can't make the world a better place, than why are we here?"
Indeed, people can make a difference – one bite at a time. "Even little things, like having one meatless meal a day, can make a huge difference." She also encourages fans to sponsor animals and volunteer at the Barn.
Adds Dewan-Tatum, who has two dogs
at home: "Who says animals don't have feelings? Animals and people are connected. We have to treat each other with compassion."
For Dewan-Tatum, this compassion spans back to a time long before she ever met her Magic Mike
hunk (and upcoming on-screen romantic interest
). "I've always been an animal lover," she says.