Prepare to swoon over Paul Wesley’s (Stefan) stories about growing up with a love of animals. The Vampire Diaries actor opened up to The Humane Society of the United States his childhood love for his family cats and his time spent with his grandparents in Poland. There may also be stories involving hugging dogs. You have been warned.

Paul takes his celebrity seriously, and has been using it to “educate the younger generation and hopefully reform the way we consume food in America.” In a Q&A centered around Paul’s mission to end the use of gestation crates in the pork industry, he told HSUS: “We need to respect all animals as if they were the pets we love at home.”

Of course, this leads to stories about how Paul grew up loving and respecting animals: “I grew up with cats and as a child loved our family cats dearly. That’s probably my first real experience of actually loving an animal,” Paul remembered. “Also, one summer in Poland, when I was probably 9 or 10, I was on vacation and several miles down the road a large scary-looking dog was chained up to a farmhouse. One day, I snuck out, brought food, and he and I slowly became friends. For three weeks I spent every day sneaking him food. By the end, he would wait for me and we would hug and wrestle.” Hug and wrestle, people.

Paul said his commitment to farm animal welfare began when he watched several documentaries, including Food, Inc.: “I was appalled at how little the general public knows,” he said. “I looked through my pantry and refrigerator, and many of the products were sourced using factory farming. I realized that supporting factory farms was not a conscious choice on people’s part, but they lacked information.”

Right now, his commitment to farm animal welfare has taken the form of a campaign against gestation crates, cages into which pigs are confined that are so small, the animals are not able to turn around. In February, Paul wrote to the CEO of Seaboard Foods, America’s third-largest producer of pork, urging the company to stop using the crates.

“When I was younger, my grandparents and I did not go to grocery stores,” Paul told HSUS. “If we wanted milk, we went to a farm. For honey, we went to the beekeeper. I think corporations have become obsessed with profit and in doing so have lost any and all ethics.”

Paul received the HSUS’s Humane Generation Award last month for his efforts in educating millions about the horrors of factory farming. Pretty cool!

The Vampire Diaries airs Thursday nights at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.

Kayti Burt is a contributing writer for Wetpaint Entertainment with a penchant for all things pop culture. Follow her on Twitter and Google+!