In Jewish dietary law, kosher foods, or foods that are allowable to eat, fall into one of three categories: dairy, meat, and parve or pareve. Parve foods are neither dairy nor meat, but are neutral, and may therefore be consumed on their own, or along with either meat or dairy foods. Meat and dairy may not be consumed together or combined in any way according to Jewish dietary law.
The prohibition against combining meat and milk is derived from a repeated injunction in the Bible, found in Exodus 23:19, Exodus 34:26, and Deuteronomy 14:21: "Thou shalt not boil a kid in its mother's milk." Different Jewish traditions interpret this law slightly differently, with some requiring different dishes to be reserved for meat or dairy meals, or alternate days set aside as meat and dairy days respectively. According to the Talmud, there are three specific requirements involved, mirroring the three mentions of the prohibition in the Torah; one may not cook meat and dairy together, eat meat and dairy together, or derive any benefit from the combination of meat and milk. Deriving benefit could include feeding a pet a mixture of meat and dairy, or selling meat and dairy in a single transaction, for example.
Pareve foods can generally be eaten at any meal, unless they have previously come into contact with meat or dairy foods or byproducts, invalidating their parve status. Pareve foods include fish, vegetables, fruits, grains, eggs, nuts, honey, and salt. Some Jewish cultures consider poultry to be pareve as well, since birds do not produce milk, while other traditions consider poultry to be meat. A possible reason for considering poultry to be meat is that it can be confused with beef, and those traditions that consider poultry as meat often acknowledge that the Talmud does not specifically prohibit eating poultry with dairy.
Packaged kosher foods are labeled as dairy, meat, or parve. The parve designation can be helpful to vegetarians and people with dairy allergies, as well as to people who keep kosher, since kosher law is very strict regarding the absence of meat and dairy products and byproducts in parve foods. For example, foods made with gelatin derived from beef collagen are not pareve; nor are foods with the milk byproduct casein. However, some foods that are not acceptable in a vegan diet are considered pareve - namely honey, fish, and eggs - so it is important to check the ingredients on the label of each specific product.