According to Jewish law, there are certain foods that cannot be eaten, as well as some foods that cannot be eaten together. These kosher foods are divided into three categories: meat, dairy and pareve.
Pareve (pronounced PAHR-iv) is the Yiddish term that refers to foods that contain no meat or dairy ingredients. Parve is the Hebrew term and is pronounced PAHR-vuh.
According to the Jewish dietary laws, or laws of kashrut, whereas meat and milk products may not be cooked or eaten together, pareve foods are considered neutral and may be eaten with either meat or dairy dishes.
Anything that is not dairy or meat—and has not been prepared with dairy or meat—is considered pareve. All fruits, vegetables, pasta, grains, nuts, beans, legumes, and vegetable oils are pareve. Beverages such as soft drinks, coffee, and tea are pareve.
Many candies and sweets are pareve as long as they are labeled as such. Even if there isn't dairy in the ingredients, the food may have been produced on dairy equipment, so checking labels is important.
Interestingly, though they are animal products, both eggs and fish are considered pareve as well. Note that in many Jewish Orthodox circles, while fish and meat may be eaten at the same meal, it is not considered permissible to cook fish and meat together, to serve or consume them from the same plate or to eat them during the same course of a meal.
Pareve products will have the word "pareve" and a letter U on their label. Alongside the kosher symbol, you may also see a D (for dairy) or D.E. (dairy equipment), as well as those foods that do not specifically note "meat."
With the exception of fish, pareve foods are inherently vegetarian and dairy-free. Therefore, many consumers with dietary restrictions who do not keep kosher for religious reasons may nevertheless seek out kosher pareve-certified products.