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Meat, Dairy and Pareve

Meat, Dairy and Pareve

The Kosher Kitchen


Kosher foods are divided into three categories: meat, dairy and pareve. One of the basic principles of kashrut (the laws of kosher) is the total separation of meat and dairy products. Meat and dairy may not be cooked or eaten together. To ensure this, the kosher kitchen contains separate sets of dishes, utensils and cookware, and separate preparation areas for meat and dairy. A third category, pareve, is comprised of foods which are neither meat nor dairy and may therefore be eaten with either. It is useful to have some separate pareve utensils as well.


The kosher kitchen contains separate sets of utensils and preparation areas for meat and dairyThe category of meat includes meat, fowl, and their byproducts, such as bones, soup or gravy. Any food made with these foods is considered “meaty,” or fleishig (Yiddish). Even a small amount of meat in a food can cause it to be fleishig. All these products must come from a kosher animal, properly slaughtered and prepared according to the dietary laws.


All foods derived from or containing milk are considered dairy, or milchig. This includes milk, butter, yogurt and all cheese—hard, soft and cream. Even a small amount of dairy in a food can cause the food to be considered dairy.

Note: Some “non-dairy” creamers, candy, cereal and margarine do contain milk derivatives, as do some low-calorie sweeteners.


Foods that are neither meat nor dairy are called pareve. This means that they contain no meat or dairy derivatives, and have not been cooked or mixed with any meat or dairy foods.

Eggs, fish, fruit, vegetables, grains and juices are common pareve foods. Other pareve foods include pasta, soft drinks, coffee and tea, and many types of candy and snacks.

All products—meat, dairy or pareve—that have been processed in any way should be bought only if they bear reliable kosher certification.

Click here for more on the kosher kitchen.

Illustrations by Yehuda Lang. To view more artwork by this artist, click here.
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Caleb South Africa May 15, 2017

The prohibition about cooking a kid in its mother's milk appears in a single sentence inside a verse, seemingly without context. Perhaps the context is the preceding study of clean and unclean food. It may have been a common practice to cook meat in milk at the time so that this prohibition may have nothing to do with meat and dairy but everything to do with compassion which is a greater Torah requirement Reply

Alice Jena Richmond Hill April 17, 2015

meat,dairy & Parve Once again, I beg my fellow Jewish People to go Vegetarian & then hopefully Vegan.
It is the pure Kosher way....and kind to G-d's creatures. Reply

Hadassah Coolac December 17, 2017
in response to Alice Jena:

Our family is slowly heading in that direction! Reply

Anonymous Chicago October 8, 2013

Re: Chicken is not mammal Indeed, a hen does not give milk, and that's why chicken is not included in the biblical prohibition. The prohibition against eating foul with milk is a Rabbinic safeguard.
The meat of foul, a living creature which lives above ground, can be considered in the eyes of many to be similar to meat from animals. (If foul and milk would be permitted, some might assume that indeed the original prohibition was severely limited in scope to only include a goat in its own mother's milk.) Reply

Levin WA state September 4, 2013

Chicken is not a mammal I'm confused. The kosher laws derive from "not cooking a calf in its mother's milk." A chicken is a bird and does not produce milk.

Hence you can never cook a bird in its mother's milk.

Also, the meat must be from split hoof animal that does chew cud. Reply

orgreenic November 18, 2012

meat We have ate meat for years and some of the health issues are how you cook it. Reply

Mrs. Chana Benjaminson via July 8, 2012

Status of eggs Please see Why are eggs pareve for sources and more information. Reply

dale July 7, 2012

dairy egg Just because one buys eggs from the dairy section doesn't mean eggs aren't meat. Eggs are a "by-product" of chickens which seem to be considered "meat". So how do you get a Pareve egg?. Go figure. Reply

Muriel Coudurier-Curveur Santa Barbara, CA July 5, 2012

Kashrut I am not a rabbi and I don't pretend to know the why of rules.
Chicken doesn't give milk, but one thing it does give -like any meats or milk product- is cholesterol. When you have both milk and meat in the same meal, you end up with a double wammy of cholesterol.
So far, even though I am from a family beset with both obesity and high cholesterol, kashrut has kept my cholesterol level pretty close to ideal. Reply

Anonymous July 3, 2012

Kosher Kitchen This is why we have war! God is so busy checking on who's eating what that He has no time for anything else. Reply

Lisa Bristol, CT July 2, 2012

chicken as meat so the Rabbis know better than the Torah? I think it is time to reverse the decision in this day and age the chance of chicken being mistaken for veal is less likely than surimi being mistaken for crab or shrimp. Reply

Mrs. Chana Benjaminson via June 3, 2012

Peter We solve this easily by thoroughly washing hands after handling dairy or meat. Reply

Peter ny May 30, 2012

Peter You can always fix that to your fridge wall or something, but I don't really do the whole Kosher utensils thing
Mainly because your hand has so many substances that it'd be impossible in the end to say a certain fleishig utensil has got no stains of dairy, even if just by contact with the hand. Reply

JDV February 28, 2011

meat, dairy and pareve Wouldn't it be easier for Jewish people to be vegetarians? i think all those dietary laws would be tremendously difficult to remember unless you were brought up that way and could be put on autopilot. Reply

Dr. Steven Abraham February 28, 2011

chicken This is an incredible coincidence because I was just thinking this morning about this question. I have always wondered why chicken is not parve. I have heard the explanations but I do not understand them in a biblical sense. If the idea is not to seethe the calf in the milk of its mother, there is no reason not to mix chicken and milk. The mothers of chickens do not produce milk in any way, shape or form. I have heard things about the rabbis thinking it hard to distinguish meat from chicken but that does not do it for me. Reply

Lady Arwen Wilson New Braunfels, TX November 4, 2010

For Michael; Michael, I was thinking the same thing. It does not make sense to me either. So I don't have qualms about eating fowl and dairy together.

The texture of Poultry and Meat are too different, especially if you are preparing it. Reply

michael malardo providence, ri November 3, 2010

kosher Fowl (chichen, goose, turkey, duck, etc.) are not mammals and do not give milk. Why the prohibition on mixing them with dairy? Do the rabbis think we are to stupid to tell the difference? Reply

Anonymous Englishtown, NJ USA November 3, 2010

Daily and Fleshig Since the Torah is exactly the words of G-d, they why do the Rabbis think that when G-d commanded us not to cook an animal in its mothers milk, G-d did not mean it to be literally interpreted as it was given to Moses? Chicken cannot be mixed with milk because it looks like meat but the kosher section of the market has pollock shaped and that looks like shrimp that is marked kosher? If one personally sees the chicken being slaughtered how could you confuse the meat with veal? Meat of the animal is ritually humanely slaughtered is kosher but there is no requirement to treat the animal humanely while it is alive. Have you every been to a commercial chicken farm? It are things like this that keeps me from being Orthodox kosher. It seems to be more about business practices and not observance. Reply

Lady Arwen L. Wilson New Braunfels, TX November 1, 2010

Kashrut I have a hard time understanding this concept.

Thou shalt not boil the kid in its mother's milk fall into the same category as Thou shalt not take the egg from under the mother bird while she she is sitting on it or is nearby.

It would be terrible for a mother goat to see her kid slaughtered and then see it boiled or seethed as the scripture says in her own milk.

I also thought that it was a compromise of G-d to allow meat consumption, because people were cutting of leg from living animals and made them suffer and to still the blood lust (murder) of the people. To allow them to eat meat so they would not kill each other.

If I am wrong please correct me. ( I am NOT A vegetarian) Reply

Malkie Janowski for Coral Springs October 31, 2010

Originally, chicken was parve. There's no Biblical prohibition against mixing poultry and milk, and in fact, once upon a time it was kosher. Only meat, ie: cows, deer, buffalo, etc., was considered meat by the Torah.

Chicken's status was changed from parve to meat thousands of years ago by the Rabbis. Because chicken is very similar to some meats in taste, texture, and appearance (like veal) the Rabbis feared that meat could be too easily mistaken for chicken and eaten with dairy foods. To prevent this, they instructed that chicken fall under the meat category as well, but it's a Rabbinic enactment, not a Biblical one.

Please note that a Rabbinic enactment is no less stringent and binding than a Biblical one, but it is helpful to understand the origins. Reply

yael October 31, 2010

chicken is meat according to torah? I´ve always thought that since chicken is not a mammal (no problem with the issue boiling the goat in its mother milk) chicken was pareve. Reply

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