Pronounced PAH-riv or pahr-veh, “parve” is a Yiddish (and by extension, Hebrew) term for something that is neither meat nor dairy.

This is significant because Jewish law does not allow one toParve food may be eaten with meat or milk cook or consume meat together with milk products. Parve food, however, may be eaten together with both meat and milk. Examples would be water, eggs, fish, and anything that is plant-derived, such as fruit, nuts and veggies.

Thus, a cookie labeled as “parve” can be eaten together with cream-laden coffee, or after a steak dinner.

Since meat and dairy utensils are also kept separate, dishes that are used for neither meat nor dairy are also known as “parve.”

Learn more about meat, dairy and parve.

Some Important Parve Information

Eggs: Although eggs come from an animal, eggs are still parve.1 Why? Think about it. Milk comes from an animal too, and it sure isn’t considered meat. Read more about that here.

Fish: Fish is parve. However, because of health concerns, the sages of the Talmud prohibited eating it with meat. (There are varying customs about eating fish with milk. However, fish may be prepared on either meat or dairy utensils2 and eaten right before or after meat or milk with no concern, as long as one washes one’s mouth out.3) There is a custom not to eat fish with milk, which you can learn more about here.

Bread: Almost all bread is parve. Recognizing that dairy bread could easily be taken for parve and eaten with meat and vice versa, the sages forbade the production of bread with milk or rendered fat unless it is clearly marked, or if such a small amount is produced that it will be served only to people in the know.4

Faux Meat or Dairy: Soy burgers and almond milk are often parve. But onlookers may be misled if they see you sipping milky coffee with meat or topping your burger with cheese, notOnlookers may be misled realizing that the milk or meat they are seeing is not real. Thus, the sages decreed that these products must be specially marked if they are to be consumed with something that appears incompatible. For example, an almond floating in your almond milk would allow you to serve it with a beef dinner.5 A more contemporary application would be to leave the almond milk container on the table so that everyone knows what it is.

Other Uses

In common parlance, “parve” has come to denote neutrality in other contexts as well. Here are some examples:

“I find both politicians equally boring, so my feelings about this election are pretty parve.”

“I’ve learned to get along with my mother-in-law, but our relationship is still far from warm. You can say it is parve.”