Parve, sometimes written “parev” or “pareve”, describes a food that does not contain either dairy products or meat products. The term relates to the laws of kashrut, the dietary laws for kosher food.
Parve foods are non-dairy and vegetarian (but they are not necessarily vegan).
Examples of parve foods are fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Sponge cake is usually parve, and famously so in my home. Kosher packaged or prepared foods that are parve will say “parve” on the label, next to the heksher, or kosher symbol.
According to kosher dietary laws, food with dairy products can not be served in the same meal as food with meat products. However, a food that is parve has neither dairy nor meat products in it, so a parve food can be served with either dairy or meat foods.
The categories of parve, dairy, and meat extend to pots, pans, utensils, and other tools used to prepare food as well as the plates, flatware, cups, and other items used to eat food. A kosher home will have one set of cookware and tableware for dairy food, another set for meat food, and most probably another set of dishes used only with parve foods.
Most kosher caterers will serve only meat and parve foods or dairy and parve foods.